Donald Trump has won Super Tuesday. But he still hasn't won the Republican nomination. I believe Donald Trump's authoritarianism and overt racism mean his nomination as the standard-bearer of the Republican Party would dishonor the party, and that it's incumbent on every Republican to do every lawful thing to prevent that outcome.
Which poses the question: After Super Tuesday, how do you stop Trump?
The answer is clear: The non-Trump candidates should rally behind a single standard-bearer. The majority of Republicans disapprove of Trump, and even more would if they knew about the various scandals that show the corruption of his character.
This is still winnable. As Jonathan Last pointed out in The Weekly Standard, in exit polls, "Only 27 percent [of voters] had heard about his reluctance to denounce David Duke and the KKK; 20 percent about Trump University and the fraud lawsuit; 13 percent about the failure of Trump Mortgage." The key is to unite behind a single candidate who can beat him.
Everyone knows this. The problem is that every candidate thinks that he should be the standard-bearer. Ted Cruz thinks it's Ted Cruz. Marco Rubio thinks it's Marco Rubio. John Kasich thinks it's John Kasich.
I want to make the case that the man is Marco Rubio.
Now, I need to come out of the woodwork. Yes, I've supported Marco Rubio since this thing began, and yes, I have strong reservations about Cruz. But if I honestly believed Ted Cruz was the best candidate to beat Trump, I would call on Rubio to drop out and endorse him.
The anti-Rubio, pro-Cruz case is easily laid out, as The Resurgent's Brian E. Miller does. All of the talk about Rubio's prowess as a candidate is just that — talk. He underperformed in New Hampshire. He didn't win South Carolina. He didn't win Nevada. Meanwhile, Cruz has won his home state and other states, while Rubio is polling below Trump in Florida. Cruz is the winningest candidate after Trump, and so the anti-Trump camp should rally to him.
Here's the problem with that assessment.
Cruz won't win the next states. Cruz did relatively well on Super Tuesday because that day's contests were skewed toward his Southern evangelical base. But the upcoming contests aren't in Southern evangelical states, and in those states, Cruz is likely to underperform and Rubio to outperform.
Rubio draws blood. Everybody mocked Rubio, or hung their head in shame, after his debate fluke in New Hampshire, and deservedly so. But since then, he's proven he's not a robot. At the debate before Super Tuesday, Cruz landed a few punches, but Rubio positively wiped the floor with him. Thus far, Marco Rubio is the only person in the universe to have beaten Donald Trump in a debate. And it had an impact: Trump won, but underperformed his pre-debate poll numbers, and late-deciders disproportionately broke for Rubio.
Rubio can unite the Republican Party. It's a line Rubio likes to repeat, but it doesn't mean it's not true. Like it or not, there are huge swathes of the Republican Party that dislike and distrust Cruz, and not just the establishment. This isn't just important for beating Trump, but for what happens after. Besides hardcore anti-immigration voters, who will probably stay home anyway if Trump isn't nominated, everybody in the GOP at least likes Rubio.
Rubio can win. Sorry, but Ted Cruz's belief that you can win in 2016 with the 2004 playbook of turning out those phantom "millions of conservatives" who "stayed home" is a fantasy. Not going to happen. Beating Trump with an unelectable general election candidate would still salvage some of what's left of the party's honor, but if we have the option of a non-Trump candidate who can also win a general election, then we should definitely take it.
Ted Cruz's entire candidacy and public persona is premised on the idea that he's the only one who puts principle above all. Many conservatives have long suspected that it's all an act, and that what Ted Cruz puts above all is Ted Cruz. Now he has an opportunity to prove us wrong, and do a great thing for his country. He should seize it.