Houston, we have a problem. The #NeverTrump movement was originally meant to blunt Trump’s appeal so that rank and file GOP voters could rally around establishment darling Marco Rubio and he could sweep to the nomination. So the consistently sunny Rubio went negative. Really negative – pee-pee jokes and all. He did his best impersonation of insult-comic Jeffrey Ross at a celebrity roast. And the beneficiary was…Ted Cruz. That gives the GOP insiders who are Rubio’s main constituency a bit of agita – that’s Italian for heartburn. GOP insiders dislike Texas Senator Ted Cruz almost as much as Donald Trump – maybe more.
Over the past week or so, the #NeverTrump movement has lost it’s way. Originally intended to benefit Rubio it has instead helped Cruz. With 2 more primary victories this past weekend, Cruz has emerged as the most likely Republican challenger to Trump. This has left the pro-Marco/#NeverTrump forces in a quandry. Politico explains:
“What’s more, Ted Cruz’s emergence as the best-placed alternative has complicated the anti-Trump movement’s push to find financiers. Many top Republicans, especially those in Washington, see Cruz as just as objectionable as Trump.”
“Over the weekend, Cruz solidified his standing as Trump’s closest rival, winning two more contests and lifting his total state count to six, compared to Rubio’s only wins in Minnesota and Puerto Rico. Cruz impressively doubled Trump’s showing in the Kansas caucuses, despite the businessman’s last-minute stop in Wichita, and won among election-day primary voters in Louisiana, demonstrating late momentum following Thursday’s ugly debate. Rubio’s election-day support in Louisiana cratered into the single digits.”
And things are likely to get less pleasant for Republican insiders with Rubio trailing in his home state of Florida with its winner-take-all primary on March 15th. If Trump wins Florida, Rubio will be forced to do what he should do now – get out and endorse another candidate. But for Rubio and the substantial portion of the GOP establishment still stuck somewhere in one of the Kubler-Ross model’s stages of grief the next few weeks look tough.