Establishment Republicans are plotting to undermine the Trump campaign and go against the wishes of voters.
On Saturday The New York Times reported remarks made at a luncheon of Republican governors and donors in Washington on February 19. The newspaper mentioned Karl Rove, the Republican strategist who pioneered dirty tricks along with Donald Segretti during the 1972 Nixon campaign.
Rove said it’s not too late to stop Trump.
During a meeting of Republican governors Paul LePage of Maine demanded action. “Seated at a long boardroom table at the Willard Hotel, he erupted in frustration over the state of the 2016 race, saying Mr. Trump’s nomination would deeply wound the Republican Party. Mr. LePage urged the governors to draft an open letter ‘to the people,’ disavowing Mr. Trump and his divisive brand of politics,” the Times reports.
Establishment Republicans have thus far been stymied in their effort to sabotage Trump, but that has not quelled their animosity. More drastic measures, however, have not been considered due to fear of angering and alienating the Republican base.
Last fall strategists Alex Castellanos and Gail Gitcho huddled with Republican donors, including casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and the hedge-fund manager Paul Singer, and hatched a plan to form a super-PAC called “ProtectUS” to take out Trump. The plan included negative ads that were to run in New Hampshire, but the effort never got off the ground.
Other establishment billionaires, including the Koch Brothers, are vehemently opposed to Donald Trump, but they have been unable or unwilling to launch a counter initiative.
Instead of guerrilla tactics and Rovian dirty tricks Republicans plan to do battle on the convention floor this summer. Delegates are only committed to a candidate on the first ballot and they may be swayed away from Trump during multiple rounds of voting, according to Republican strategists.
The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, is so irate at the probability of a Trump nomination he plans to urge Republicans up for re-election to run negative ads against the nominee during the election, thus sabotaging their own party. Many Republicans would rather see the Democrat Hillary Clinton as president than Trump.
“We’ll drop him like a hot rock,” McConnell assured Republicans.
Establishment Republicans appear to be coalescing behind the preferred candidate Marco Rubio and hope he may be able to unite the party and diminish Trump’s hope of securing the nomination.
This, however, is a last ditch effort that, like all previous moves, seems destined for failure.