Christie Endorsement Payback to Rubio for Attacks

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Re: Christie Endorsement Payback to Rubio for Attacks

Postby admin » Mon Apr 11, 2016 1:52 am

GOP at war with itself
by Stephen Collinson
CNN
March 5, 2016

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Washington (CNN)This means war.

The unprecedented spectacle on Thursday of the last Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, blasting his likely successor, Donald Trump, as a "phony" and immoral "fraud" represented more than just an extraordinary moment in a surreal political year.

It may be remembered as the moment that the GOP establishment's long-brewing horror over the billionaire businessman burst into open political combat and an active bid to bring him down at the party convention.

"I believe with all my heart and soul that we face another time for choosing, one that will have profound consequences for the Republican Party and more importantly, for the country," said Romney, channeling former President Ronald Reagan in his stunning speech in Utah.

Romney's concise, categorical takedown of Trump's intellect, character and motivation amounted to a tipping point in a long-building revolt among Republican elders now openly despairing of the former reality TV star's grip on the GOP nomination and his staunch armies of outsider voters who refuse to abandon their outspoken champion.

But Trump dismissed Romney as if he was swatting a fly. "He was a failed candidate," Trump said at the Fox News debate Thursday night, branding Romney as an "embarrassment" who just wants to be relevant and get back in the political game.

However, Romney was not alone. His assault won an endorsement from the previous GOP nominee, Arizona Sen. John McCain. It also came on a day when a group of prominent conservative national security experts warned darkly that Trump was not qualified to be president. And it coincided with a drive by Republican super PACs and other anti-Trump forces to halt the billionaire with attack ads.

A risky civil war

But unleashing a Republican civil war is fraught with risk, has staggering implications for the party itself and appears to fly in the face of the grim precedent of divided parties in American political history.

The path Romney and his allies have chosen leaves Republicans with a dilemma, assuming Trump extends his march toward the nomination in coming primaries and caucuses -- and there is little reason to think he won't.

Either they must embrace a Romney-led attempt to overturn the democratically expressed will of millions of voters and risk alienating Trump supporters who, if they reject the GOP, could effectively hand the election to the Democrats.

Or they must accept Trump as their figurehead even though embracing him would change the party itself in the eyes of moderate and conservative Republicans alike who see him as the antithesis of what they believe the GOP stands for.

Not all of Trump's policy positions are clear. But a party he leads would implicitly go into the general election as an anti-free trade, somewhat isolationist, immigration hardliner force that embraces economic nationalism and has unclear positions on social issues. That contrasts with the GOP's heritage as a pro-globalization, internationalist and even interventionist party laced with social conservatism and dedicated to a creed of small government.

The dilemma hasn't been resolved by all of the GOP's leadership, despite the full frontal attack Romney delivered. That equivocation could dilute some of the efficacy of the anti-Trump wing's efforts. And it's far from certain that Romney, who is seen by many GOP voters as a flawed candidate who botched an attempt to bounce President Barack Obama out of office, is the best messenger for such an offensive.

Party higher-ups on Thursday were sticking to the position that there could be no change to the process -- in an apparent attempt to stop the civil war from flaring out of control.

"Another day, another fascinating development," Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus told CNN's Wolf Blitzer. "When we get to a nominee, this party is going to support that nominee 100%. I don't care who the nominee is. Our job is to support the person who gets the majority of delegates."

Not following Romney's lead

Other members of the Republican establishment in Washington -- who have more to lose than Romney because they are still in office -- were not quite so keen to rush to the barricades.

House Speaker and Romney confidant Paul Ryan declined to endorse the former GOP nominee's warning, saying only that he would speak out if he saw conservatism being "disfigured."

And Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, the influential chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued a short statement pushing back at the notion that party grandees should intervene to thwart Trump.

"Here's my message to the Republican Party leaders: Focus more on listening to the American people and less on trying to stifle their voice," Corker said.

But one person who was happy to engage was Trump, who thrives on conflict and seemed to sense that he couldn't lose from a confrontation with an unsuccessful establishment nominee, lashing Romney as a "choker" who had begged him for an endorsement in 2012.

It does seems counterintuitive that in an election that has been defined by a rejection of the Republican establishment, the man to deliver a body blow to Trump would be a symbol of the GOP elite.

"I think that Romney's speech today is not going to change a single vote," said Mark McKinnon, a former strategist for President George W. Bush on CNN's "The Lead with Jake Tapper."

"If anything," he continued, "it will probably harden the support that Trump supporters have because it is just another example of the establishment all these supporters are against circling the wagons."


The idea of framing a strategy to thwart the will of Republican primary voters is also a troubling concept to some conservatives, even those who do not support Trump.

"Win it, lose it, but don't steal it," former Minnesota governor and presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty told CNN's "Erin Burnett OutFront."

Whether or not they are successful or defensible, the widening anti-Trump attacks may have important electoral implications for the Republican Party. It was, after all, the spiritual leader of the party, Abraham Lincoln, who warned in another context: "A house divided against itself cannot stand."

Divided parties don't fare well

Internecine warfare has rarely made parties prosper in presidential elections.

"The short answer is it doesn't end well for that party generally," said David Karol, an political parties expert at the University of Maryland.

In recent political history, splintered parties have crashed to defeat. In 1972, Democratic nominee George McGovern was a divisive figure in his party, and he won only one state.

In 1964, another candidate that played to the extremist fringe of his party, Republican nominee Barry Goldwater, was also crushed.

Further back, in 1912, the Republican Party split over its rejection of a comeback attempt by former President Theodore Roosevelt, who decided to go it alone with his new progressive "Bull Moose Party." A Democrat, Woodrow Wilson profited from the chaos to win the White House.

"I could see Trump being a failed nominee, and the whole thing being a debacle for them with lasting consequences," said Karol. "They would probably lose the Senate, then they would lose the Supreme Court."

There is also precedent in U.S. history for a party to split completely. After all, the Republican Party itself emerged after such a schism in the Whig Party in the 1850s -- in that case over slavery -- though there is no similar sign or foundational issue suggesting that this crisis is an existential one for the GOP.

There is another downside from waging war with Trump: If he prevails over those who would block him, he would only emerge emboldened and would then have the capacity to change the party itself, while the party leadership would only look that much more powerless.

Still, the escalating political war may be one that the GOP has to have, given the fervent anger against a string of failed establishment nominees that has stoked the grass-roots fury that Trump has been able to exploit. In some ways, the party has been at war since at least 1994 following former Congressman Newt Gingrich's Republican revolution through to the tea party challenge to establishment forces in more recent years.

"We are going to have a really rocky year," said Heather Cox Richardson, a Boston College historian whose history of the Republican Party argues that several times in its past, the GOP has gone through a cycle of purging its more extreme elements.

"If you are really looking long term, that implies this is something that has got to be released before the party can rebuild itself in a healthy way," she said.

Richardson's advice to the party's up-and-coming leaders: "I would hide under my desk until 2020."
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Re: Christie Endorsement Payback to Rubio for Attacks

Postby admin » Mon Apr 11, 2016 2:40 am

Romney implores: Bring down Trump
by Eric Bradner and Catherine Treyz
CNN
March 3, 2016

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(CNN)Mitt Romney delivered a sweeping broadside against Donald Trump on Thursday, laying into the Republican presidential front-runner with a sharper attack than any of the party's 2016 contenders have made against the billionaire business mogul.

"Here's what I know: Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud," Romney said. "His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University. He's playing members of the American public for suckers: He gets a free ride to the White House, and all we get is a lousy hat."

Romney said that "dishonesty is Donald Trump's hallmark," pointing to his "bullying, the greed, the showing off, the misogyny, the absurd third-grade theatrics."

There's irony in Romney's speech: Just four years ago, he courted Trump's endorsement -- even after Trump had led the "birther" controversy against President Barack Obama, insisting that Obama release his birth certificate to prove he is an American citizen.

Trump returns fire

Trump hit back by mocking Romney's 2012 loss at a campaign rally in Portland, Maine -- pointing to Romney's efforts to secure Trump's endorsement.

"He was begging for my endorsement. I could have said, 'Mitt, drop to your knees' -- he would have dropped to his knees," he said.

He said of 2012: "That was a race, I have to say, folks, that should have been won ... I don't know what happened to him. He disappeared. He disappeared. And I wasn't happy about it, I'll be honest, because I am not a fan of Barack Obama, because I backed Mitt Romney -- I backed Mitt Romney. You can see how loyal he is."

He said Romney thought about running again in 2016, but "chickened out."

Romney tweeted after his own speech but before Trump's that had the New York businessman made similar statements about the KKK and others in 2012, he would not have accepted the endorsement.

"If Trump had said 4 years ago the things he says today about the KKK, Muslims, Mexicans, disabled, I would NOT have accepted his endorsement."


Mitt Romney ✔ ‎@MittRomney
If Trump had said 4 years ago the things he says today about the KKK, Muslims, Mexicans, disabled, I would NOT have accepted his endorsement
12:13 PM - 3 Mar 2016


Cruz, Kasich and Rubio

But now Romney, the 2012 GOP nominee, is attempting to play the role of party elder during a speech at the University of Utah. He said any of the party's other candidates -- Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich -- would be suitable choices.

He also amplified the stakes of the election, arguing that a Hillary Clinton presidency would be damaging, as well.

The remarkable speech reflected the splintering of the Republican Party, as party leaders and statesmen increasingly rebuke their front-runner.

Romney didn't endorse a candidate -- saying that, due to the party's delegate apportionment process, he'd vote for Rubio in Florida or Kasich in Ohio, if he lived in any of those states, when they vote on March 15.

It was, in effect, an argument for a contested convention, which would come only if Trump couldn't win enough delegates to capture the nomination on the first ballot.

"If the other candidates can find common ground, I believe we can nominate a person who can win the general election and who will represent the values and policies of conservatism," he said.

Trump, meanwhile, is winning over working-class whites and evangelical voters who are angry with Washington's political class -- breaking turnout records in primaries along the way.

Despite Romney's scathing speech, there are few signs it will dissuade Trump's loyal core of supporters who so far have greeted his most eyebrow-raising antics with swelling support.

National security threat

Nonetheless, Romney lambasted Trump on foreign policy, casting him as "very, very not-smart" in his comments about allowing ISIS to take out Syria's leadership and for proposing the slaughter of the families of terrorists.

"Mr. Trump is directing our anger for less-than-noble purposes. He creates scapegoats in Muslims and Mexican immigrants. He calls for the use of torture. He calls for the killing of innocent children and family members of terrorists. He cheers assaults on protesters," he said, adding that Trump would trample First Amendment protections.

Romney also said Trump's remarks on CBS' "60 Minutes" on Syria and ISIS "has to go down as the most ridiculous and dangerous idea of the campaign season: Let ISIS take out Assad, he said, and then we can pick up the remnants."

"Think about that: Let the most dangerous terror organization the world has ever known take over a country? This is recklessness in the extreme," Romney said.

Trump prebuttal

Even before Romney spoke, Trump kicked off an anti-Romney social media tirade late Wednesday night, posting a Facebook video accusing the former Massachusetts governor of being soft on cornerstone conservative issues, including immigration and abortion.

Then he knocked Romney on social media Thursday morning ahead of the speech.

The business mogul, who himself has changed positions on abortion, continued hitting Romney and the Republican establishment Thursday morning in a series of tweets.

"I have brought millions of people into the Republican Party, while the Dems are going down. Establishment wants to kill this movement!" Trump tweeted.

Donald J. Trump ✔ ‎@realDonaldTrump
I have brought millions of people into the Republican Party, while the Dems are going down. Establishment wants to kill this movement!
4:30 AM - 3 Mar 2016


McCain mocking

Romney also mocked Trump's failed business ventures, pointing to his airline, his casino bankruptcies and more, and attacked his sexual indiscretions, too.

"There's a dark irony in his boasts of his sexual exploits during the Vietnam war, while at the same time, John McCain, who he has mocked, was in prison being tortured," he said

As soon as Romney wrapped up, McCain, the Arizona senator who was the 2008 GOP nominee, said he agreed.

"I share the concerns about Donald Trump that my friend and former Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, described in his speech today. I would also echo the many concerns about Mr. Trump's uninformed and indeed dangerous statements on national security issues that have been raised by 65 Republican defense and foreign policy leaders," McCain said in a statement.

McCain, citing a letter penned by conservative national security experts published Wednesday night, added, "I want Republican voters to pay close attention to what our party's most respected and knowledgeable leaders and national security experts are saying about Mr. Trump, and to think long and hard about who they want to be our next commander-in-chief and leader of the free world."

Unprecedented speech

The extraordinary effort by Romney to take down the Republican front-runner comes amid a last-ditch rush among the party's donors and loyalists to stop Trump from capturing the nomination.

After the remarks, Kasich tweeted, "Well said, @MittRomney."

John Kasich ✔ ‎@JohnKasich
Well said, @MittRomney. -John
9:50 AM - 3 Mar 2016


His attack on Trump was an amalgamation of all of the attacks that other candidates and party members have made in recent weeks.

One of his top aides in the 2012 race, Katie Packer, is heading a super PAC that is launching attack ads against Trump. Another super PAC and the hardline conservative Club for Growth are also airing ads critical of Trump.

It could be too late: Trump has already won 10 of the first 15 states to vote, and he has a clear lead nationally over Rubio and Cruz.

Romney cast the coming months' elections as a crucial moment in history, citing Ronald Reagan and saying that this nominating contest is "a time for choosing" -- laying waste along the way to Reagan's fabled "11th Commandment" that Republicans not speak ill of other Republicans.

Meeting with Ryan

Adding to the intrigue: Romney's 2012 vice presidential running mate House Speaker Paul Ryan had a private dinner with Romney in Salt Lake City Utah last weekend, CNN has learned.

The dinner occurred while Ryan was on a trip out West to help campaign for House candidates, an aide said. But the aide maintained that the speaker only learned last night that Romney was planning to deliver a speech strongly criticizing Trump.

At his weekly press conference that happened at the same time as Romney's blistering attack on Trump, Ryan was asked about any talks he's had with Romney and the 2012 GOP's nominee's message about Trump, but he said he hadn't "seen the content of the speech."

"Mitt Romney is one of our party leaders, and he cares deeply about the future of the Republican party and the country," Ryan said, adding that "Mitt and I are very close friends."

Failed businessman

In his speech, Romney called Trump's policy proposals "flimsy, at best," and said he'd trigger a trade war, drive up the deficit and lead the nation into a recession.

"Even though Donald Trump has offered very few specific economic plans, what he has said is enough to know that he would be very bad for American workers and American families," he said.

"Now I know you say, 'Isn't he a huge business success, and doesn't he know what he's talking about?' No he isn't, and no he doesn't. His bankruptcies have crushed small businesses and their workers. He inherited his business; he didn't create it," Romney said.

Romney also pointed to Trump's exchange about white supremacists with CNN's Jake Tapper last Sunday on "State of the Union" as a general election liability.

"The video of the infamous Tapper-Trump exchange on the Ku Klux Klan will play 100,000 times on cable and who knows how many billion times on social media," he said.
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