Fact check: Probably true, and even if it’s not, they will be soon. Donald Trump bragged to Matt Lauer this morning on NBC’s Today show that “the biggest people in the party” want sit-downs with him as he gets closer to the nomination:
Donald Trump tells TODAY’s Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie “the biggest people in the party” are already calling to sit down with him as the presumptive GOP nominee.
But Trump wouldn’t reveal which Republican leaders have reached out, aside from a phone call he said he received last week from House Speaker Paul Ryan.
“A lot of people are calling because they see what’s happening,” the Republican billionaire candidate said in a phone interview Tuesday with TODAY.
Some of this is just due diligence. Trump is the likeliest nominee for the Republican Party at this point, so of course party officials and leadership want to get on his schedule. That’s not nothing, of course — it’s a signal that Trump is being taken seriously, and that the party knows it will have to coordinate resources and strategy in case he wins the nomination. For the GOP, it might help inoculate against conspiratorial allegations down the line if Trump loses the nomination, either through the primary process or at the convention if he comes up short on delegates.
That’s still a distinct possibility. Trump looks set to win Florida’s 99 delegates barring a miraculous turn of events for Marco Rubio, giving him almost a third of all the delegates up for grabs tonight, but Ohio is another matter. John Kasich has never lost a statewide election in Ohio, and he’s fresh off a 2014 landslide re-election. Trump has a lot of appeal to blue-collar Rust Belt workers, but so does Kasich. If Trump gets shut out of Ohio’s winner-take-all primary — and Ted Cruz wins another middle-America state in Missouri, with its winner-take-all primary — then suddenly Trump’s night doesn’t look quite as shiny. He’s still in the lead and has the best numerical shot at the nomination, but Cruz is still alive, and the consolidation of the race might leave it a binary choice from here on out.
On the other hand, perhaps the GOP is more enthusiastic about Trump than they’ve let on. Andrew Malcolm wonders where all the party defenders have gone if that’s not the case:
Have you noticed all the senior Republican Party leaders — the ones whispering worries to Washington reporters but, for pete’s sake, not for attribution — out campaigning in recent weeks to save their party from the destructive whirlwinds of the Trump tornado?
We haven’t either. …
It’s understandable early in a nomination process for congressional and party elders like Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan to stay out of intra-party competitions. Former president George W. Bush campaigned briefly for his brother.
But now? Now, with a few exceptions like Nebraska’s Ben Sasse and with the future of the GOP brand imperiled by a faux conservative stalking horse for Clinton, they go strangely silent.
Also at stake: All those crucial down-ticket races in November that could cost the GOP control of the Senate and even the House if Americans figure out that “Make America Great Again” is just a hat.
Excuse us if after seven years of the wily Obama and out-foxed GOP Hill leadership, we’ve moved beyond skepticism to cynicism on this.
That’s actually the sort of ‘leading’ from behind that got their party into this feckless mess.
Maybe they’re tied up on phone calls … waiting to talk to you-know-who. Operators are probably standing by.