In order to defeat Donald Trump, The Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol admits he is prepared to hand Hillary Clinton the Oval Office. On Wednesday’s “Morning Joe,” the Republican Establishment leader laid out his plot to deprive Trump of the 50% of delegates necessary to secure the nomination. From there, the idea is to go into a brokered convention and cut a kamikaze deal that awards enough delegates to an “acceptable” candidate (who will have won far fewer votes, states, and delegates than Trump).
The problem with the Establishment brokering a behind-closed-door deal that hands the nomination to a Marco Rubio, is that the backlash against the Republican Party is almost certain to hand Hillary Clinton the presidency.
If a bunch of rich, angry GOP elites rob Trump supporters of their victory, the blowback will result in so many voters staying home in November, Hillary wins. As NBC’s Chuck Todd pointed out last night, at this point the delegate math is such that the only way to stop Trump is through this scheme at the convention.
As you’ll see below, that outcome is preferable to Kristol, and by extension it is safe to assume that outcome is also fine with the rest of the Republican Establishment.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: The fact of the matter is that you know there is no historical precedent with someone doing as well as Candidate Trump did yesterday — winning New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada, [losing the nomination] has never happened before, and as you know there is a momentum, a forward progress–
BILL KRISTOL: Right, so we have to stop the momentum, I totally agree.
SCARBOROUGH: So that’s my question. There’s no cheering here. I am looking at facts.
KRISTOL: To your credit, you have correctly seen that this was not going to be the historically normal year, and it’s not, so maybe we go–
SCARBOROUGH: So how do you beat him?
KRISTOL: You have to beat him in Florida and Ohio, the first two winner-take-all states, which means there has to be a de facto agreement between the opposition candidates — between the resistance to Trump, which I am proud to be a part of, because I think he’d be a terrible nominee and a terrible president…
SCARBOROUGH: You have the authority to broker that deal right now?
KRISTOL: Well, they need to. They need to defer to Rubio in Florida and probably to Kasich in Ohio, and say, or imply, that if you are a Cruz voter in Ohio, and if you look up the day before the primary and it’s Trump 42%, Kasich 35% — vote for Kasich. And the truth is if Trump doesn’t win Florida and Ohio, it remains very much of an open race. …
Donald Trump [so far] has 35% of the popular vote and 47% of the delegates. That’s a lot better than having 24% of the popular vote and 25% of the delegates, granted. …
JOHN HEILEMANN: Just to go a little further on this topic of what Bill’s advocating: As you talk more and more to Republicans, who will say to you privately and sometimes publicly, that they would rather vote for Hillary Clinton than for Donald Trump, [these are the] people who are going to try to stop him — their attitude is: We know that would happen at a contested convention if we took the nomination away from a Donald Trump [who has won through] a plurality of delegates.
What would happen is that we would likely alienate his supporters and we would likely lose the presidential election. But their position is that it would be better for us to lose the [general] election than to have Donald Trump tear the Party in half as the nominee.
Now you can say that’s suicidal, but that is the posture of people [worried] about the negative effects down ballot.
KRISTOL: And [Trump] would still lose the election. And shouldn’t win the election, So, yeah, I agree.
This is a good time to ask where this scorch-earthed mentality was when America needed it most to stop Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC