What happens if the GOP tries to leave Trump behind

Given this core character trait, what do you suppose will happen if Trump faces a serious competitor for the nomination in 2024? Is he likely to accept the vote count that shows him losing a primary or caucus? Is it likely he will forego the temptation to challenge every convention rule that poses a threat to him? (If you want to see what a genuinely contested GOP convention looks like, check out the Taft-Roosevelt fight in 1912, or the Eisenhower-Taft confrontation of 1952.)

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Most important, a Trump who is denied the nomination — which, by his account, must have been the product of horrible, disgusting cheating the likes of which nobody has ever seen — is a Trump with the inclination and the resources to run an independent campaign for president. And he’ll have enough true believers to doom whoever the GOP nominee is.

In his famous 1860 Cooper Union speech, Abe Lincoln condemned Southern Democrats for threatening secession by charging: “you will destroy the Government, unless you be allowed to construe and enforce the Constitution as you please. … You will rule or ruin in all events.”

For Trump, “rule or ruin” may sound less like a critique than a campaign pledge.

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