The Republican Party establishment is running out of weapons to use in its fight to prevent Donald Trump from winning the party’s nomination for president. Later this morning, it will bring out Willard “Mitt” Romney, its failed standard-bearer from 2012, to see if he can crack through Mr. Trump’s armor. Judging from the content that has been leaked to the press, Mr. Romney will give it the old Brigham Young University try, but one can’t help but wonder if this will backfire. What the GOP ruling class has never understood nor successfully grappled with is that attacks from them on Mr. Trump merely reinforce his message to his supporters — “they fear me because I will help you.”
Mark Halperin, whose program “With All Due Respect” is must-see TV for political pros on Bloomberg and MSNBC (Jon Heilemann is co-host), managed to get hold of excepts from the speech to be delivered at 11:30 Eastern time this morning. Among other things, Mr. Romney will say, “Donald Trump says he admires Vladimir Putin, while he has called George W. Bush a liar. That is a twisted example of evil trumping good.” Mr. Romney’s target audience is not this journal nor its readers, but one must admit that Mr. Bush lied America into a war of aggression. And Mr. Putin does seem to be getting away with murder (literally). Both are evil, but truth is not Mr. Romney’s servant here.
The former Governor of Michigan will also say, “Trump relishes any poll that reflects what he thinks of himself. But polls are also saying that he will lose to Hillary Clinton …. A person so untrustworthy and dishonest as Hillary Clinton must not become president. But a Trump nomination enables her victory . . .” Mr. Romney is exactly correct in this, but it begs the question, “will the Trumpistas care?”
Then, he will say, “Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud. His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University. He’s playing the American public for suckers. He gets a free ride to the White House and all we get is a lousy hat.” The last point is a reference to Mr. Trump’s ugly red baseball cap that has embroiders on it Make America Great Again.” The hat is made in China, and if one replaces “America” with “Germany,” one can feel the true origins of Trumpism.
The final Halperin except reads, “His domestic policies would lead to recession. His foreign policies would make America and the world less safe. He has neither the temperment nor the judgment to be president. And his personal qualities would mean that America would cease to be a shining city on a hill.” Again, this looks like an indictment of the last Republican administration as much as of Mr. Trump.
Mr. Trump is not even waiting for the speech to counterpunch. He has already tweeted, “Looks like two-time failed candidate Mitt Romney is going to be telling Republicans how to get elected. Not a good messenger!” Then, “Failed candidate Mitt Romney, who ran one of the worst races in presidential history, is working with the establishment to bury a big ‘R’ win!” And a bit later, he added, “Why did Mitt Romney BEG for my endorsement four years ago?”
But the real measure of success or failure here will come from guys like @Johnsmi01433966 who tweeted to Mr. Trump, “The establishment doesn’t like you because they can’t control you and get you to lie to us and keep ripping us off.” One genuinely hopes this individual gets the help he needs under Obamacare, but until then, he is likely to die in the trenches for Mr. Trump.
What Mr. Romney is doing plays well in Trumpland, to the benefit of Mr. Trump. The only way to take back their party before the convention is to convince Johnsmi01333966 and the rest of the mob supporting Il Douchy that he is the guy who fired them after 20 years in the same job, that Mr. Trump is supporting policies that will benefit his companies, that he is responsible for the political system as it is because he helped fund it; that he is a liar, cheat and grifter. That can’t come from Mr. Romney or any other party figure. It must come from the people who lost their jobs when Trump Casinos went bust, who lost money trying to better themselves at Trump University, whose homes were threatened by his abuse of eminent domain laws. Mr. Trump can’t be beaten by the party. He can only be beaten by the people who live like his supporters and who have already been his victims.
And even now, it is probably too late to stop him from winning the nomination. Preventing him from winning in November will have to suffice.