Sunday, May 15, 2016

How Donald Trump Convinced the Republican Party to Revolve Around Him

At the Guardian UK, "Seemingly overnight and without much effort, majority of GOP congressmen endorse or have come to accept the presumptive nominee as the face of the party":
Donald Trump was every bit the buyer ready to walk off the lot if he couldn’t be shown a bargain.

“Does it have to be unified?” he said last Sunday, musing aloud about the need for the Republican party to come together behind his candidacy for president. “I’m very different than everybody else, perhaps, that’s ever run for office. I actually don’t think so.”

Was the author of the Art of the Deal bluffing? It does not matter now, because in the last week Trump has gotten what he professed not necessarily to want: substantial party backing for his presidential candidacy.

A series of meetings between Trump and congressional leaders in Washington on Thursday turned out to be a victory lap for the candidate. His success with House speaker Paul Ryan, previously billed as his most powerful adversary, was typical. Ryan went from being “just not ready” to back Trump one week to “totally committed to working together” the next.

Or, in Trump’s words on Twitter on Thursday afternoon: “Great day in DC with @SpeakerRyan and Republican leadership. Things working out really well!”

The Republican coalescence around Trump is indeed working out really well, for the candidate at least. By the Guardian’s latest count, 45 of 54 Republican senators either support Trump wholeheartedly or have pledged to support the nominee. Only three senators have said they will not back Trump.

Senator Susan Collins, a moderate from Maine, is one of six senators in a third category: wait-and-see. In a statement to the Guardian on Friday, she said she expects to support the Republican nominee, “but I do want to see what Donald Trump does from here on out”, including whether he will dispense with “gratuitous personal insults” and “clearly outline for us what his vision of America is beyond a slogan”.

Collins said she would not make a decision until the national convention in July.

In the House of Representatives, the break towards Trump has not been quite so clean. Some members clung to “#NeverTrump” sympathies even after his run on the Hill. Republican governors presiding over states where Trump’s name is mud with moderates, such as Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, or with important constituencies, such as Susana Martinez of New Mexico, likewise have withheld their support.

A significant opposition remains among the party’s passé ruling class and current donor class. Both former presidents Bush have said they will sit out the 2016 campaign, as has former presidential candidate Jeb Bush. The 2012 nominee, Mitt Romney, said on Wednesday that Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns was “disqualifying”. Important mega-donors including Paul Singer and the brothers Koch have not visibly moved to back Trump.

But many Republican senators who once expressed misgivings about Trump have set those feelings aside, as a rallying cry goes up to join forces in an attempt to defeat the likely Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton...
Still more.