Today may prove to be the most critical day yet in the 2016 GOP primary race. All told, there are 358 GOP delegates up for grabs today, including the huge, winner-take-all prize of Florida’s 99 delegates.
Symbolically important, of course, are the home states of GOP candidates FL Sen. Marco Rubio and OH Gov. John Kasich. While Kasich has said previously he will drop out if he loses his home state of Ohio, Rubio has claimed he won’t base his campaign on one state alone — in other words, will carry on despite the outcome of Florida, where he trails Trump by double digits in most polls.
Regardless of Kasich and Rubio — whom many are calling mere spoilers at this point in the race — former House Speaker Newt Gingrich thinks that if Trump wins big in Florida today, the party “won’t be able to stop him.” And even if that prediction doesn’t surprise you, Gingrich’s prediction about a Trump and Cruz alliance might.
“If Trump gets big numbers in Florida, you’re not going to be able to stop him. You’ll just tear the party apart,” he said.
“If Trump wins Florida by the margin anticipated, then [Sen. Marco] Rubio could stay in just to affect the numbers, but he won’t be a serious candidate anymore,” Gingrich said.
One point to keep in mind here, is that Trump has typically underperformed the polls — and more so in closed primary states, such as Florida. So Gingrich’s “if Trump wins Florida by the margin anticipated,” is at this point still a big “IF.”
Gingrich is watching Florida closely, but he’s also looking at Ohio, where his former House Budget chairman John Kasich is looking to get a win to keep himself alive going into the convention, amid pressure from Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).
“If Kasich wins Ohio, he could certainly stay in and be part of a potential negotiating block,” Gingrich said. “But in five Ohio counties, 20 percent of the voters are people who voted in the Democratic primary in the past. That is very, very good for Trump.”
Gingrich threw cold water all over the idea of a brokered convention, which Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol has been plotting. If no candidate gets 50 percent of the delegates on the first ballot, then on the second ballot the pledged delegates can become “un-pledged” and support whomever the party bosses tell them to support.
“It’s childish nonsense,” Gingrich said. “There are two potential presidential nominees. One is named Donald. One is named Ted. The idea that some clever Washington intellectual or power broker — put quote marks around ‘power broker’— can step into an election in which millions have voted and magically change the trajectory of history? It’s goofy. There’s two players standing.”
Gingrich speculated that Trump and Cruz might actually form an alliance, similar to how they did in the early days of the campaign, in order to prevent a brokered convention at the last minute.
“If Trump is at 45 percent does he negotiate with Cruz?”
“They will band together and have 85 percent of the delegates between them,” Gingrich said. “Both of these guys are committed to breaking up the old order.”
Remember last fall when Trump and Cruz were BFFs? Trump even named Cruz as a possible VP pick, saying:
“Ted Cruz is now agreeing with me 100 percent,” he said when asked about his vice presidential pick, according to Lifezette.
“Well, I like him,” Trump told radio host Laura Ingraham during her broadcast. “He’s backed everything I’ve said.”
Of course, Trump also noted at that time, “If he catches on, I guess we’ll have to go to war.”
Which, as we know, is exactly what’s happened. Still, as we know, politics indeed makes strange bedfellows and some pretty large hatchets have been buried in the name of furthering one’s cause.
[Note: This article was written by Michelle Jesse, Associate Editor]