Talk of a GOP convention coup and unendorsing Trump: a time for choosing

Arizona’s junior senator, Jeff Flake, suggested this week that there could be a convention “coup” to deny Donald Trump the nomination at the GOP convention in Cleveland. That would certainly make for “Must see TV”!

Steve Benen reports, Talk of a convention coup rattles Republican politics:

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), a Donald Trump ally, said yesterday his party’s presumptive presidential nominee has “two to three weeks” to fix his campaign. What Corker did not say is what happens in two to three weeks if Trump is still, well, Trump.

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who remains part of a small “Never Trump” contingent within the GOP, went just a little further in an interview with the Associated Press.

Screenshot-16Said Flake: “Let’s face it: meet the old Trump, just like the new Trump. We’ve got what we’ve got. That’s not somebody who can win the White House.”

He added: “Where there’s no talk of a convention challenge or anything else, this might spur it.”

Hugh Hewitt, a prominent voice in Republican media, said on his radio show this morning that the party “ought to change the nominee.” Bob Vander Plaats, an Iowa-based leader for social conservatives, told NBC News, in reference to a possible convention coup, “Everything’s got to be on the table.”

Yeah, about that convention coup . . .

Bloomberg View’s Jonathan Bernstein highlighted the fanciful thought experiment yesterday:

… All it would take to dump him in Cleveland would be a vote to free the delegates, followed by having at least half of the convention oppose him on the first ballot.

Technically, they wouldn’t even have to have an alternate candidate. Trump dissenters could vote for various other candidates – or Mickey Mouse, for that matter – as long as a total of 1,237 of them don’t vote for Trump.

New York magazine’s Ed Kilgore, who described this as “a nuclear option,” added, “Approximately one-third of the delegations to the Republican National Convention will be bound to primary or caucus winners by state election laws. For the rest of them, however, the ‘binding’ is by national party rules, and ultimately the rules of every Republican convention are made and can be unmade by the convention itself. So, in theory, convention delegates could vote to unbind themselves (or at least those not bound by state election laws) before the first presidential ballot and throw the nomination open again.”

Just so we’re clear: I’m not predicting this. In fact, I’m quite certain this has no realistic chance of happening. It’s a fun political thought experiment to kick around, but anyone expecting Trump to face such an organized convention revolt is very likely to be disappointed.

* * *

[T]he fact that this has even become part of the conversation is emblematic of just how badly Donald Trump is doing as the general-election phase gets underway.

Maybe someone should inform these guys. At Romney summit, anti-Trump Republicans in exile ponder their party’s future:

Today, the GOP is divided and anxious, and as many of these same people gather with Romney once again, they now represent a party in exile, retreating to the political wilderness of Deer Valley and powerless in what has become the party of Donald Trump.

Romney was set to open his annual ideas festival here Thursday evening with the Republican Party newly riven by issues of race, following Trump’s accusations against a federal judge of Mexican heritage. The controversy has escalated concerns about Trump’s electability and the possible fallout from his candidacy on other GOP candidates.

Romney has been the most visible spokesman for the “Never Trump” movement. But the guest list includes both those hostile to Trump as well as some of his allies — including Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, some of Trump’s top fundraisers, and endorsers such as House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.).

The Experts and Enthusiasts summit, or E2, is not a “Stop Trump” confab by design. Still, the gathering of mostly Republican business and political leaders is sure to showcase their desperation for a viable candidate other than Trump and serve as a reminder of the futility of their efforts so far to defeat him.

* * *

The E2 summit is the first of what will be many events in which Republican elites begin to talk and think about a post-Trump era, in the event that he loses to presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Many of the roughly 300 people assembling at the five-star Stein Eriksen Lodge Deer Valley for three days of colloquiums and seminars will be thinking about who might lead their party after November.

“I am not expecting we will sit by the campfire singing ‘We Shall Overcome’ and group-hugging,” said GOP strategist Ana Navarro, a Trump critic. “Mitt Romney and other like-minded leaders can have a big influence on the reconstruction of the post-Trump Republican Party. We need to start those conversations now.”

The event comes amid chatter in some Republican circles about ways to establish party rules that could somehow deny Trump the nomination at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland next month. Those conversations underscore the continuing discomfort with Trump, yet have produced nothing concrete, either in terms of a clear strategy or a consensus alternative candidate.

Romney has steadfastly ­refused to run again, though the reunion here of his friends and allies is expected to produce some encouragement from well-wishers for him to reconsider, as it has the previous two years here.

“We’re at the point now where Mitt is the last dog in this fight who can run a credible ­third-party effort,” said Republican strategist Rick Wilson, who has tried, unsuccessfully so far, to draft a Trump alternative. “There will be tremendous pressure on him.”

* * *

Romney will deliver remarks in a closed-door session, and he has no plans to make public statements or give media interviews, his aides said. “He’s trying to not make this full of drama on purpose,” said Ron Kaufman, a Romney adviser and friend.

* * *

Past and potentially future presidential candidates will be in attendance, among them Ryan; Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who lost to Trump in this campaign; and two rising stars, Sens. Tom Cotton (Ark.) and Ben Sasse (Neb.). Sasse has been outspoken in his opposition to Trump, although he rebuffed entreaties from Romney, among others, to run this year as an independent.

Other GOP politicians scheduled to be here are Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin and Reps. Trey Gowdy (S.C.) and Carlos Curbelo (Fla.). Also in attendance will be veterans of Romney’s campaigns, including strategist Stuart Stevens and fundraiser Meg Whitman, the Hewlett Packard Enterprise chief executive. Both are vocal Trump critics.

* * *

Reince Priebus is expected to make the case for party unity and Paul Ryan is prepared to provide more detail to attendees about his discussions with Trump over the past month and why he came to endorse him, according to a Republican who has been in touch with both men.

James A. Baker III, a Republican elder statesman and former secretary of state, and Leon E. Panetta, a former defense secretary under President Obama, were scheduled to address the opening dinner Thursday night. Organizers believe Panetta may make the case against Trump as a national security danger.

Zwick characterized the Romney loyalists in attendance as divided over Trump, with some steadfastly opposed and many more on the fence still.

“There’s a quiet majority in the middle who are not sure what to do,” he said. “Many of these donors feel free to support Hillary Clinton. They don’t represent anybody but themselves. They don’t feel an obligation to protect and promote the Republican Party.”

In October of 1964, Ronald Reagan gave a campaign speech in support of far-right conservative Barry M. Goldwater entitled A Time For Choosing (The Speech).

Today, Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson offers an updated version of “a time for choosing” as it applies to the racist Donald Trump. The party of Lincoln is dying:

So what were senior Republicans thinking when they endorsed Trump? I don’t want to underestimate the difficulties involved in opposing one’s own presumptive nominee. There is tremendous political pressure to be loyal to the team.

* * *

Republican leaders, in other words, thought they were in a normal political moment — a time for pragmatism, give-and-take, holding your nose and eventually getting past an unpleasant chore.

But it is not a normal political moment. It is one of those rare times — like the repudiation of Joe McCarthy, or consideration of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, or the Watergate crisis — when the spotlight of history stops on a single decision, and a whole political career is remembered in a single pose. The test here: Can you support, for pragmatic reasons, a presidential candidate who purposely and consistently appeals to racism?

When the choice came, only a handful of Republicans at the national level answered with a firm “no.” A handful. … It is shocking to me — and depressing and infuriating — that almost no elected Republicans of national standing would stand up to it.

* * *

[M]any of us will never be able to think about the Republican Party in quite the same way again. It still carries many of the ideological convictions I share. Collectively, however, it has failed one of the most basic tests of public justice: Don’t support racists — or candidates who appeal to racism — for public office. If this commitment is not a primary, non-negotiable element of Republican identity, then the party of Lincoln is dead.

Without a passion for universal human dignity and worth — the commitment to a common good in which the powerless are valued — politics is a spoils system for the winners. It degenerates into a way for one group to gain advantage over another. And for Trump in particular, politics seems to be a way for white voters to take back social power following the age of Obama.

Many Republicans, I suspect, will sicken of defending this shabby enterprise — as Sens. Lindsey Graham, Jeff Flake and Mark Kirk have done. The process of unendorsing Trump is humiliating, but only for a moment. The honor of choosing rightly, when it mattered most, will endure.

Well said. So what’s it going to be, Senator McCain? Will you demonstrate the principles and honor of choosing rightly that Senator Flake has, and unendorse Donald Trump? Or will you fail this singular test of moral leadership. You have to do so before the GOP convention. Time is running out.

One response to “Talk of a GOP convention coup and unendorsing Trump: a time for choosing

  1. For Sure Not Tom

    Can you imagine the “second amendment remedy” folks reaction if the GOP gave Trump the boot?

    I hope this isn’t taken a trolling, but I can’t believe the Democratic nominee for US President will be the one supported by Wall Street and defense contractors.

    Not because she’s “owned” by Wall Street, though I kinda’ think she’s at least been rented, but because Wall Street doesn’t like uncertainty, and Trump is nothing if not that.

    And I base the defense contractor statement on her years in State. A lot of foreign aid is actually tanks and planes, so even without a war, I’m sure they’ll find a way to make due under Clinton.

    We live in interesting times.