Now I really have seen everything.
This week, in the Utah nominating caucus, I will vote for Senator Ted Cruz.
Today, there is a contest between Trumpism and Republicanism. Through the calculated statements of its leader, Trumpism has become associated with racism, misogyny, bigotry, xenophobia, vulgarity and, most recently, threats and violence. I am repulsed by each and every one of these.
The only path that remains to nominate a Republican rather than Mr. Trump is to have an open convention. At this stage, the only way we can reach an open convention is for Senator Cruz to be successful in as many of the remaining nominating elections as possible.
I like Governor John Kasich. I have campaigned with him. He has a solid record as governor. I would have voted for him in Ohio. But a vote for Governor Kasich in future contests makes it extremely likely that Trumpism would prevail.
I will vote for Senator Cruz and I encourage others to do so as well, so that we can have an open convention and nominate a Republican.
First Lindsey Graham, now this. Surely Cruz will reject these overtures from the Washington cartel. Right?
Thank you, Governor! https://t.co/4zbAGaIGSH
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) March 18, 2016
Kasich campaign advisor John Weaver responded with this pissy tweet: “Good to know Ted Cruz is the establishment, K-Street backed candidate. #HelloStatusQuo” Amusing, but also another small bit of evidence that Team Kasich is aligned with Team Trump. Trump will be bludgeoning Cruz with that same line of criticism every day for the rest of the race now.
If you read this post this morning, you know that Romney’s correct about Kasich wrecking the odds of a brokered convention. His decision to compete in Utah, despite the obvious damage it would do to the anti-Trump effort, might have left Romney feeling he had no choice but to speak up today and nudge establishmentarians to start using their brains and voting strategically the rest of the way. (Of note: Michael Leavitt, a former governor of Utah and a close Romney ally, endorsed Kasich a few days ago, a deeply stupid move if you’re aiming to stop Trump. Romney’s trying to counteract that here.) Given how quick Cruz was to thank Romney for his endorsement, presumably the timing was coordinated with his campaign, raising the possibility that Romney might appear in Utah on Cruz’s behalf over the next few days. That’ll only make it easier for Trump to demagogue Cruz as a RINO establishmentarian but the delegate math the rest of the way is harsh enough that Cruz can’t worry about that now. He can only hope his populist voters will stick with him as a push from Beltway Republicans moves some of Kasich’s voters his way to try to stop Trump.
Whatever else you do, though, don’t call this an endorsement. Re-read Romney’s statement and you’ll see that at no point does he suggest Cruz should be the nominee. He says that people should vote Cruz because that’s the only way to force a contested convention, which in turn is the only way to stop Trump. Who he wants to see nominated at such a convention is an open question … although, in practice, I think Trump and Cruz will end up with enough delegates that they can re-write the rules so that it has to be one of the two of them. (Again, re-read this morning’s post linked above and note the bit about Rule 40.) And Cruz surely prefers this sort of quasi-endorsement to the real thing: Given the way Romney phrased this, he can now say in interviews, truthfully, that he hasn’t been embraced by the establishment. What they’ve embraced is a brokered convention, the same as every other anti-Trumper in America has. It’s a strategic alliance, not a substantive one.
Update: C’mon, Donald. You can do better than this.