David Rogers has again weighed in for Ted Cruz as the vehicle for a Stop Trump Movement. While I agree with much of his analysis, I cannot accept it all. As I have admitted before, I am a committed supporter of Marco Rubio, but I like to think that does not determine my analysis, as much as it might provide a tinge of color.
Passing over the question of whether Cruz or Rubio would run better against Hillary Clinton (my reading of the polls is that Rubio would – David seems to regard them as about even on that question), my main disagreement is with David’s assertion that Cruz offers a realistic chance of garnering the Hispanic vote in a general election. Cruz’s hard line on immigration makes that extremely unlikely, even with Rubio on the ticket, itself extremely unlikely.
On the first point, consider that in his election to the Senate in 2012, Cruz got less of the Hispanic vote than John Cornyn (himself an anti-immigrant hard-liner) had gotten two years earlier. Cruz ran ahead of Romney among Hispanics, but that’s what James Taranto calls the Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations. Since election to the Senate, as Cruz’s national ambitions have grown, so has his anti-immigrant rhetoric. Fantasizing about a Cruz victory in California displays a disconnect from reality.
(I cannot resist an aside here: California is beyond the reach of any Republican presidential candidate for the simple reason of Governor Pete Wilson’s decision to adopt the precise stance on immigration now advocated by Ted Cruz. Wilson’s support of Proposition 187 in 1994 [later ruled unconstitutional] overnight turned the Golden State from a winnable proposition for Republicans into money in the bank for Democrats. I strongly fear the nomination of Ted Cruz will do the same for the nation as a whole.
Rubio’s stance on the immigration question is clearly softer than Cruz’s. David mentions Rubio as part of the Gang of Eight, which, while a burden in the Republican primary race, becomes a decided plus in the general. That fact alone ought be enough to decide the question of which of the two is more electable in the general.
On the second point, Cruz is now campaigning hard against Rubio in Florida, a course which will have two results: (1) Cruz and Rubio will split the anti-Trump vote, giving Trump 99 delegates and a likely outright delegate majority before the Convention; and (2) a clear demonstration that Cruz is not interested in tactical compromise to reach a strategic goal, even when that goal is beneficial to himself. He would much rather cut off his nose to spite his face. This is the character trait which has earned him not a single endorsement from his colleagues in the Senate (not even Mike Lee!), while Rubio has 14 (plus 5 governors and dozens of U.S. Reps.).
Yes, that lineup displays a split between the Establishment and the Insurgents, a Manichean analysis out of touch with reality (Paul Ryan an Establishmentarian?), and that is a question that will have to be addressed, but we will address it within the party much better with a Republican in the White House than with a Democrat or a proto-fascist. Let’s concentrate on the task at hand: winning the White House.
I reiterate a point I have made here before, echoing Mitt Romney: the only way to avoid a Trump victory in Cleveland is for Rubio to win in Florida and Kasich to win in Ohio. With that outcome, Trump may even be denied a plurality before Cleveland, and certainly a majority.
If Cruz is second in delegates going in to Cleveland, he has a chance of prevailing in an open convention. While I would prefer Rubio, if Cruz can cobble together a majority of the delegates there, I would find it possible to support him against Hillary. Unfortunately, it does not appear, from his foray into Florida, that he truly understands the need to Stop Trump First and Foremost.
Of course if he wins Florida outright, his tactic will be validated.
We’ll see what happens.