Charles Koch is confident House Speaker Paul Ryan could emerge from the Republican National Convention as the party’s nominee if Donald Trump comes up at least 100 delegates shy, he has told friends privately.
Koch believes Ryan would be a “shoo-in” at a contested convention, should the campaign get to that point. Though Koch’s wealth gives him significant influence within the Republican Party, it does not necessarily translate into skill in political prognostication. Still, he and his brother David are fond of Ryan. As a source close to the brothers told The Huffington Post, they appreciate the agenda he has pursued as speaker, including opposition to tax extenders and heightened warnings against corporate welfare — positions that contrast with the admittedly vague portfolio pushed by Donald Trump…
An astute reader notes that the Koch brothers have a history of pushing Ryan for the White House. As the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer reported in her book, Dark Money, Sean Noble, a Republican consultant often referred to as a “Koch operative,” tried “for months” to persuade Ryan to run for president in 2012. And he did so with the assent of the Kochs.
I’m calling BS, starting with the “shoo-in” bit. Whatever else the dark-horse scenario at a brokered convention might be, it wouldn’t be a shoo-in and surely operators like the Kochs understand that. If this post yesterday wasn’t enough to convince you of what a hard time Ryan would have getting nominated, read Caitlin Huey-Burns on the Paul Ryan “pipe dream.” It’s a question of simple math: With Cruz and Trump organizing at the state level to get their delegates elected coast to coast, where would you find the numbers on the convention floor for a dark horse like Ryan who’s unpalatable to both factions? Only if there were a protracted stalemate between the two sides would the names of non-candidates start floating around, and I think you’re as apt to see a true outside-the-box pick in those circumstances, like Gen. James Mattis, as you are to see an establishmentarian like Ryan. There’s just no way that the populist inferno of the past year ends with Fireman Reince and company dousing the flames and installing one of their buddies. It would alienate half the party.
Or rather, at least half. Look at McClatchy’s numbers:
GOP voters are clear, by 65-29, that they want only candidates who already have run in the primaries to be eligible.
“There’s very much a notion that if you weren’t in, you shouldn’t win,” said Miringoff. “If they go outside to any of those folks, it would be done at great jeopardy and at great risk. The electorate would not be happy.”…
The opposition to a candidate who hadn’t run in the primaries was strongest among Cruz supporters, with just 25 percent finding it acceptable for the nominee to be a noncandidate. Among Trump supporters, 28 percent found it acceptable for a noncandidate to be the nominee.
In theory that means Rubio, Scott Walker, and other former candidates would be acceptable-ish, but in practice I think they’d be an even harder sell than Ryan would. If you went off the grid and nominated someone who didn’t run this year, you’d have arguments — weak ones, but arguments nonetheless — for doing so. “The party’s too bitterly divided between Trump and Cruz,” “Trump and Cruz have serious electability problems,” and so forth. What’s the argument for nominating someone like Rubio who ran and lost badly? You can’t even argue electability in that case; if he was electable, critics will counter, then he would have been elected in the primaries. Realistically your universe of possible options is Trump and Cruz and that’s it (sorry, Kasich). But there’s peril there too:
Cruz fans and Kasich fans are all for screwing Trump on the second ballot (go figure) but few other constituencies are. Republicans generally think, to the tune of 52/40, that the overall delegate leader should be the nominee, and Trump will certainly be the overall delegate leader. Even among Cruz’s and Kasich’s supporters, three in 10 say that Trump deserves the nomination under those circumstances rather than their guy. Women, one of Trump’s consistently weakest demographics, also agree, 46/44. (The numbers are more lopsided for men at 57/36.) McClatchy didn’t ask the obvious follow-up question, whether those who think Trump deserves the nomination would refuse to support Cruz as nominee, but given the sheer numbers here, Cruz would obviously begin the fall campaign with lots of work to do to unite even non-Trump Republicans behind him. It may be, with Trump’s numbers toxic in the general election and Cruz’s nomination seen as illegitimate by too many Republicans, that there’s no way for delegates to pick someone in Cleveland with a strong chance of winning in November. Which, I think, explains the recurring fascination with Ryan: If they’re screwed with either Trump or Cruz, might as well nominate the nice young likable guy from the midwest and hope for the best.