Via Breitbart, the key bit below starts at 6:30. When he says “set the country on fire,” does he mean people literally setting things on fire in rage over how much they hate a Trump/Cruz ticket? Because I can sort of see that. Trump’s numbers are flaming garbage, as you know, but check out Cruz’s numbers from the same poll:
What should we call that? Smoldering garbage? I’m a Cruz backer but I’m also under no illusion about how popular he is and isn’t among the general electorate. (Although the AP data here is from a poll of adults, not likely voters, please note.) Unlike Trump, he really would have a chance against Hillary this fall, but only because her own numbers are a smoking dumpster — and even then, he’ll have trouble flipping any of Obama’s blue states in 2012 to red. There is no ticket involving Trump or Cruz, let alone both of them, that sets the country on fire. There’s a ticket involving Cruz and someone not named Trump that might eke out a close victory if they catch some breaks. That’s your best-case scenario.
Buchanan’s logic here, if there’s any logic behind this, presumably is that a Trump/Cruz ticket would give the party its best chance at unity against Clinton this fall by reconciling embittered Trump fans and embittered Cruz fans. It would, for sure, eliminate the risk of a major third-party effort from one side or the other. But so what? What’s the prize for bringing the party together only to lose with 45 percent of the vote in a two-way race instead of with 37 percent in a three-way one? Trump/Cruz still leaves you saddled with all of Trump’s negatives at the top of the ticket, with all but the most hardcore Cruz-fan conservatives deeply disaffected with the direction of the party. It’s one thing for Trump to win the nomination by piling up votes in the primaries, it’s another thing for him to coopt the party’s leading conservative lights by bringing them onto his team to serve his agenda. Many Cruz fans would be enraged at him, I’m sure, for tossing his principles aside to join Trump, especially after Trump’s boorish nastiness towards Heidi Cruz. There’d still be a #NeverTrump movement, albeit a bit smaller than it is now as some strong Cruz supporters would eventually decide to suck it up and back Trump. How does all of this add up to setting the country on fire? Which swing voters, among whom Trump is toxic right now, are thinking, “No way will I support that buffoon — unless he puts Ted Cruz on the ticket, in which case ‘game on'”?
Buchanan does make one good point, though. If we go to a brokered convention, which seems likely, it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which Cruz agrees to accept the VP slot. Trump will lead on the first ballot; if he doesn’t clinch there, a bunch of votes will shift to Cruz on the second. If Cruz doesn’t lead on that one, he almost certainly will when more delegates become unbound on the third. Once he takes the lead, what incentive does he have to accept the number-two slot? You’d need to see some delegates shift back to Trump on the fourth ballot or fifth ballot, I think, and then have them end up in a protracted stalemate. In that case, Cruz might eventually cave and agree to be VP. (If only because, once there’s a stalemate, the odds of a dark-horse nominee will rise and Cruz will risk being left with nothing.) So long as Cruz maintains a lead among the delegates, though, he has no reason to bow to any other prospective nominee. If you want a Trump/Cruz ticket, it needs to happen with Trump winning on the first ballot.
Exit question: If you’re saddled with Trump as nominee, wouldn’t one of your top priorities for VP be finding someone who’s exceptionally personally likable, whom voters trust instinctively? They could look at the veep and tell themselves that if that person trusts Trump to run the country, maybe he’s worth taking a chance on. Ted Cruz has many good qualities. Being exceptionally likable isn’t one of them.
Update: Glenn Beck’s head writer chimes in: