All the talk is about Cruz and Trump these days, but I don’t see either of them getting the Republican nomination. Trump seems to be imploding. He’s falling in the polls and his reality TV like gig is starting to wear on the American people. Unless he mounts some kind of come back, he is looking less and less likely to go into the GOP convention with enough delegates to win the nomination.
Ted Cruz may be the “main challenger” to Trump now, but he’d need to win 80% of remaining delegates to come to the convention with the nomination in hand. He is not going to do that. And while he will claim he is the “top alternative” to Trump, he doesn’t have a strong argument. After all, if it’s OK to deny the guy with the most delegates the nomination, it’s certainly just as legitimate to deny the nomination to the number two guy!
More important, Cruz has strong negatives against him. First, the GOP establishment (i.e., almost all of the Senate) dislike him. He is neither respected nor trusted. Second, if Trump is denied the main role, there is a real danger that he’ll do and say things to try defeat the eventual nominee. The Republicans will want to find a way to convince him to support the party. One conditions is almost certain: the nominee can’t be Ted Cruz. Trump has too much animosity towards him. Indeed, Trump may be given the role of acting as the king maker, “voluntarily” removing himself from the running to endorse Kasich. That way, he also saves face.
Why Kasich? So far, except for very early in the campaign, Kasich has avoided engaging Trump directly. He’s remained the adult – and I’m betting the Republicans will find a way to get Trump to call on his delegates to support Kasich. Revenge against Cruz might in part motivate such Trump graciousness.
The case for Kasich will be stronger if he’s teamed with another major candidate – Marco Rubio. Rubio may not have been ready for prime time in the Presidential ring, but he’s exactly the kind of Vice Presidential candidate someone Kasich would need. Kasich is a midwest white Governor who is 64 years old. A young hispanic Marco Rubio from Florida would be a perfect balance.
After all, what two states were the most consequential in the last four elections? Yes – Ohio and Florida!
Such a ticket would have numerous advantages. First, it could win. Hillary is licking her chops eyeing both Trump and Cruz, two candidates with a track record that leaves them wide open for attack over past positions and statements. Trump is, well, Trump. Cruz is a bit creepy and not very likable.
But what about the conservative base? A few ardent Cruz supporters will be incensed that the establishment got their way, but Kasich is definitely a true conservative. Yes, he’s pragmatic – that means he can deal with liberals and isn’t driven by ideological zeal. But looking at his record over the years he is one of the more conservative politicians in the Republican party. My bet is that a focus on his record will convince most who now would oppose Kasich to embrace him. After all, once the heat of the campaign is underway their choice will be Kasich or Clinton (perhaps Sanders)!
Obviously this prediction seems a long shot. Yet it seems increasingly unlikely that either Trump or Cruz will be the nominee — their constant exchange of insults belittle both of them. Kasich is the best positioned to not only get the nomination but to win in November.
So that’s my March 30, 2016 prediction: Kasich-Rubio will emerge from the convention in Cleveland to represent the Republican party in November.