Call it The Trumpetyville Horror. Donald Trump has just moved into the GOP house, and now it has a message for its newest owner: Geeeeeeet Oooooooouuuuut. Or so Politico reports after canvassing its Politico Caucus, in which 70% of its GOP respondents fantasize about a world in which Donald Trump spent a year clinching the nomination, and then suddenly decided a fortnight later to quit:
Amid widespread chatter that Donald Trump could drop out of the presidential race before Election Day, Republican insiders in key battleground states have a message for The Donald: Get out.
That’s according to The POLITICO Caucus — a panel of activists, strategists and operatives in 11 swing states. The majority of GOP insiders, 70 percent, said they want Trump to drop out of the race and be replaced by another Republican candidate — with many citing Trump’s drag on Republicans in down-ballot races. But those insiders still think it’s a long-shot Trump would actually end his campaign and be replaced by another GOP candidate.
Gee … you think? And what would that look like, anyway?
“I also wish I could lose 20 pounds, cut 5 shots off my handicap and play the piano,” a New Hampshire Republican added. “None of those things will happen, and neither will Trump drop out.”
“Here is the quandary I find myself in,” an Ohio Republican said. “While I would love for Trump to drop out and anyone else to take the mantle, that kind of talk will only harden his supporters. We cannot let them think we stole this from them. There has never been a better example of ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t.’”
Again … you think? That was the big concern three weeks ago, which is why the RNC bigfooted the attempt to allow a floor vote on unbinding the delegates. They knew that it would inflame Trump’s populist supporters, even though the most likely outcome would still have been a Trump nomination. Perhaps the RNC should have allowed that to play out, just so that this fantasy would have been put to rest before now.
There is more than a faint whiff of unreality to this notion, and to this entire week, from all sides. There’s also a strong aroma of virtue-signaling too, an attempt to distance the GOP from its nominee. It’s a little late for that, given that Republican voters already nominated Trump, but even so, individual candidates can make that case in their elections. Right now it’s a toss-up as to what looks worse — having a nominee with Trump’s deep unfavorables, or having an entire party playing Hamlet by wringing its hands and yet doing nothing all the way to November.
Check the calendar. It’s only August 5th. There is still time to fix problems and regain a competitive position. Hillary Clinton is still a terrible candidate with tons of baggage. I’m still skeptical that Trump can win, especially the way he’s running this campaign, but he’s not going anywhere, and it’s time “Republican insiders” deal with that reality. At this point, spending time playing Fantasy Politics isn’t helping. The GOP will have to make the best of it with what voters gave them.