If the establishment is serious about stopping Trump and Cruz they need to rally around somebody. Now! Today, the establishment is divided between Kasich, Bush, Christie and Rubio. Where their support should go should be a no-brainer; Rubio!
It is true Trump is fading to 2nd/3rd in Iowa and he has about a 30 percent ceiling in New Hampshire. But in South Carolina and Nevada he still leads. Worse, Cruz’s campaign is gaining steam at exactly the right time and he now leads in a California Field poll. It’s only a matter of time before national polls reflect this.
One has to wonder why the establishment is waiting to make up its mind. They should know who is most palatable to the base while having the best general electorate appeal. Yes, Rubio has his flaws, but compared to the alternatives he is light years better.
Rubio probably would have already taken off if not for Bush and Christie in New Hampshire. In the latest poll of the state taken by PPP, a Democratic polling firm, Trump leads with 29 percent and Cruz sits at 10 percent. But among establishment candidates Rubio has 15 percent, Christie and Kasich sit at 11 percent and Bush at 10 percent. That means there are 47 percent of voters who back a more establishment orientated candidate to a Trump/Cruz type candidate. Indeed, the PPP poll finds Rubio barely behind Trump in a three-way race with Bush involved and well ahead in a head to head match-up.
Part of the problem lies in the fact that Super PACs and 3rd Party Groups allow campaigns to get almost unlimited cash. Along with this comes the ability to pay 6 figure salaries to the cream of the crop consultants. Indeed, Bush has arguably some of the best consultants on his team. So do Rubio and Christie but if they left their candidates where would they be? Up a certain creek without a paddle.
Another issue is the party and voters refuse to see the obvious. Rubio is the candidate for a party looking to appeal to a younger, more diverse nation. He is young, telegenic, articulate, smart, sharp, relatable, likable, from the swing state of Florida, and Hispanic. He would rather talk football than politics, but can give you remarkable depth on crises around the world if you need it. He has young kids, a wonderfully kind wife, and can go either way — bro or nerd.
Most importantly, he is relatable to Millennials. The GOP often misses this fact but Democrats largely turn out their base only if they can demonize their opposition. How do you do that with a Rubio. For goodness sakes, he is still paying off his student loans. Talk about something that appeals to the largest bloc of voters around.
In 2004, it is often said Bush won because he was the candidate you want to have a beer with. Duh. Neither Bush, Kasich or Christie have that ability. All are good, honest men but none of them have the charisma and presence Rubio can project all while appearing humble enough to be “average.”
Even if Rubio does not open new doors for the GOP with minorities he can appeal to suburban families in places the GOP has lost ground in (Denver, Las Vegas, Cincinnati, Philly, DC). Can you see a Bush, Christie or Kasich doing that?
Now, just think about this for a moment. The establishment has a candidate they all like and he can win. He can throw the 1992 playbook against Hillary (like her husband did against H.W.). He can let the media do the tarnishing due to Bill’s untold indiscretions.
But the establishment won’t support Rubio (at least not today). They are too old, too rich, and cozy with the Christie’s and Bush’s of the world. They don’t seem to want to win as much as just make money over the campaign and then wait for Trump/Cruz to lose in the general election and tell the base, “see, we told you so.” No wonder the grassroots is so alienated from their party.
Rubio’s campaign has been smart in anticipating the primary would be a long slog. They’ve know the establishment would not rally around them until at least New Hampshire. But even with low burn rates and candidates rising and fade, Rubio will still need to spend a lot of money to fend off Christie and Bush (who have no future beyond New Hampshire). A limping Rubio campaign heading into South Carolina and Nevada would likely be unable to win either state and then it would be a battle of attrition. Meanwhile, Clinton sits pretty (assuming no surprise Sanders wins after New Hampshire).
The biggest shock out of this entire campaign has been Bush, a good and honest man who is an intellectual conservative and loyal Republican still thinks he can win. He is wooden on the stump and holds views on education and immigration anathema to the base. Kasich, a good Governor, keeps talking about nothing but what he did in Congress and a “decent” stewardship of Ohio. Like Paul, he seems to enjoy ripping his party and its voters. Lastly, how Chris Christie, a common core supporting Governor who supports gun control legislation and hugged Barack Obama on live television, thinks he is the guy is beyond even me.
The establishment, Ryan, McConnell, Karl Rove and others needs to have a come to Jesus moment and make it clear to donors and voters they need to get behind Rubio. Now! Not after Iowa, not after New Hampshire. Now! If they don’t, the train-wreck that the GOP presidential primary has become will become a disaster when Clinton ascends the Presidency. But then again, they love money and power more than winning so it will only be a disaster to the base.