The “chief architect” of George W. Bush’s winning (?) presidential campaigns has thrown in his twopence on who does and does not have a chance at winning the GOP presidential nomination in 2016, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich makes the cut while the Man Called Trump does not.
I’m referring to Karl Rove. The question mark after the word “winning” is a reference to the fact that George W. Bush lost the 2000 general election, at least by an empirical measure before the U.S. Supreme Court stepped in.
As far as Rove’s architectural work, G.W.’s campaigns had about as much foundational integrity as the House of Usher. The ratfking they gave John McCain in the South Carolina primary with a whisper campaign about a non-existent black lovechild was worthy of Lee Atwater and Roger Stone at their worst.
Then the rats got busy in flagrante delicto again in 2004 with their “swift-boating” and gay-marriage-ban wedge salad. I don’t mean to re-cook old hash, but it’s worth remembering that the subject of today’s topic is as scummy as the underside of a Lake Erie motorboat in September.
It’s also worth remembering that the emergence of the Trump Candidacy is directly traceable to the last 30-odd years of Republican political depravity defined by the likes of Atwater and Rove. These are Karl’s chickens coming home to roost.
But as a good little blowhorn for thee Establishment, Rove is doing his bit to underplay Trump’s ability to coalesce Republican crankery.
From The Dispatch:
(Rove) said Trump has a “high floor” and a “low ceiling.” That means the 25 percent or so he’s been getting in most polls since July is firm but is not increasing.
But until more candidates drop out — and Rove says probably only a couple will in the two months leading up to the Iowa caucuses — Trump’s “floor” may be enough to stay in first, because multiple candidates are dividing up the majority anti-Trump vote.
“What I think is important for candidates to focus on is, what do I need to do in order to consolidate the 70 to 75 percent that is not for Trump and won’t be for Trump and can’t bring themselves to be for Trump,” Rove said.
Kasich can still win, “but he’s got to do really well in New Hampshire, whatever that is,” Rove said.
And how is Kasich doing in New Hampshire?
He peaked out with 12.7 on Aug. 30/Sept. 1, to Trump’s first-place 28.3, and has since fallen to fifth-place 7.8 percent while Trump continues to lead with 26 percent.
So what’s going to happen to allow Kasich or “Anybody but Trump” to emerge? Here’s Karl’s answer:
Because of the unusually large GOP field, a race that usually narrows to three leading candidates following Iowa likely will have five, he said. And New Hampshire’s traditional role of whittling the contest to two likely will be three or even four in 2016 — especially if different winners emerge from the first two states.
“All the old rules are being modified or thrown out,” Rove said. “We’re going to have a long contest.”
He noted that 28 states will vote by March 12, all but three will have delegates awarded proportionally. That means a solid GOP leader likely still won’t be determined after those races.
“We’re going to have a clouded picture by the time we get around to the ides of March,” he predicted.
That in turn puts higher stakes on the winner-take-all states whose primaries begin March 15 — a date that includes contests in Ohio, Florida and Illinois.
A long contest isn’t exactly throwing out all the old rules. For about a century-and-a-half the nominations came down to the actual nominating conventions, often multiple and many ballots at that. It was only in the latter half of the 20th Century that this norm was upset. And then still, in 2008, both Republicans and Democrats had a drawn-out primary battle, with McCain the last Republican standing not much earlier than Hillary Clinton finally bowed out to Barack Obama.
That said, Karl is likely right that the race will still be on by the time we’re voting in the Buckeye State March 15, but his insistence that Donald will somehow not be a factor at that point is wishful thinking. Trump’s going to ride the elephant as long as he can hold on, like some sort of deranged Wilhelmina Scott in Temple of Doom. And if they shake him off, he’ll unveil his own mount.
Keep the popcorn at the ready, folks, this is getting fun. The GOP Establishment will break out every arrow in their quiver to shoot down the monster they created with Trump. What’ most fascinating of all, though, is watching them try to convince Americans that the party callous enough to manifest such a beast should still be trusted to control the highest office of the land.
D.C. DeWitt is a writer and man of sport and leisure. He has also written for Government Executive online, the National Journal’s Hotline, and The New York Observer’s Politicker.com. He is the Associate Editor of The Athens NEWS in Athens, Ohio. DeWitt can be found on Facebook and Twitter @DC_DeWitt.