Is Republican establishment willing to stop Cruz at any cost?
Bob Dole, who has endorsed Jeb Bush, has weighed in on the budding Ted Cruz v. Donald Trump contest in the early GOP primaries, and backed Trump in the strongest terms. According to the New York Times, Dole warned of “cataclysmic,” and “wholesale losses” if Cruz is nominated.
Dole’s logic is viewing the Trump/Cruz contest explicitly in terms of what is better for the Republican Party establishment:
“I question his allegiance to the party,” Mr. Dole said of Mr. Cruz. “I don’t know how often you’ve heard him say the word ‘Republican’ — not very often.” Instead, Mr. Cruz uses the word “conservative,” Mr. Dole said, before offering up a different word for Mr. Cruz: “extremist.” . . .
The remarks by Mr. Dole reflect wider unease with Mr. Cruz among members of the Republican establishment, but few leading members of the party have been as candid and cutting.
Dole added that Cruz has falsely “convinced the Iowa voters that he’s kind of a mainstream conservative.”
Dole has a longstanding hate of Cruz:
Dole is still squarely a party man, and his attacks on Cruz is consistent with the Republican establishment’s well-established dislike for Cruz. Indeed, Dole didn’t endorse Trump, but rather said he was the lesser of two evils if the choice is between Trump and Cruz. Dole’s preferences are right down the party line:
He described Mr. Bush as well qualified to be president, but he also described Senator Marco Rubio and Gov. Chris Christie warmly. Mr. Bush, he said, “doesn’t scream and yell in the debates, so I guess that’s a minus, but he’s a decent, honest guy who’s had experience, and he’s dealt with a legislature.”
But Dole’s warnings about Cruz may not have the impact he is looking for. Primary voters deride insufficiently independent, conservatives candidates as RINOs and GOPe. To the extent Dole is saying Cruz is outside the establishment and genuinely conservative, that may well work to Cruz’s favor.
Twitter certainly does not take Dole’s warning against Cruz seriously:
So just like rest of RNC, bob dole prefers Jeb and Trump. Hates Cruz. There’s your “establishment”…
— Steven Crowder (@scrowder) January 20, 2016
Well, Bob Dole is an expert on cataclysmic losses to the Clintons… https://t.co/jc5mb5cW4E
— Andrew Klavan (@andrewklavan) January 20, 2016
As Erick Erickson pointed out, Dole actually has a long history of predicting conservative candidates cannot win:
Former Senator Bob Dole opposed Ronald Reagan in 1980. Dole feared Reagan would cause substantial losses for the GOP. In fact, Dole was so terrified of what Reagan would do to the GOP that in March of 1980, as Reagan was on course to secure the GOP’s nomination, Dole publicly and privately urged former President Gerald Ford to get into the race to stop Reagan. This Bob Dole, the Dole who lost the 1996 election to Bill Clinton, thinks Donald Trump is way more viable as a candidate than Ted Cruz.
With Sarah Palin and Bob Dole both endorsing Trump in the last two days, he is certainly racking up endorsements from failed past candidates.
UPDATE (by WAJ): Trent Lott too!
They hate Trump. They fear Cruz. https://t.co/MdsYjk5Kft
— Instapundit.com (@instapundit) January 21, 2016
Welp, Trent Lott just told me he'd take Trump over Cruz if he had to choose.
— Molly Ball (@mollyesque) January 21, 2016