Suddenly It’s 1964: How the Stop-Trump Drive Resembles the Past

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Suddenly, it’s 1964. That’s the year the Republican Establishment ignored the prairie fire started by the conservative supporters of Barry Goldwater, who systematically grabbed control of the GOP by scoring in precinct meeting state caucuses, delegate conventions and ultimately the big California Primary.

By the time the GOP insiders woke up, it was too late, but they launched a furious last minute attack on the Senator from Arizona. He was a “warmonger,” “not fit to be President,” “a bigot,” “a racist,” “mentally unstable,” “would push the nuclear button,” and his supporters were “Nazis.” Does this sound familiar?

In 1964 the GOP kingmakers hoped to stall Barry short of victory on the first ballot and euchre him out of victory on a subsequent ballot. Then, as now, there was a short list of ambitious pols anxious to emerge as “compromise” choices of a brokered convention: Pennsylvania Governor Bill Scranton, Michigan Governor George Romney (Mitt’s dad), Nelson Rockefeller (damaged by his California primary loss), and the ever-available Richard Nixon. As the Republicans headed to the Cow Palace in San Francisco for their nominating convention, the Stop-Goldwater forces ramped up their effort. On the eve of the GOP convention, Gov. William Scranton of Pennsylvania mounted an eleventh-hour bid to wrest the nomination from Goldwater, issuing an ill-conceived broadside that contended “Goldwaterism has come to stand for a whole crazy-quilt collection of absurd and dangerous positions.” Although Scranton took full responsibility for it, his operatives supposedly wrote the letter without his knowledge or approval. In any case, it reinforced the charge that Goldwater was an “extremist.”

The press weighed in. Columnist Drew Pearson wrote that “the smell of fascism has been in the air at this convention.” The Chicago Defender ran the headline: “GOP Convention, 1964 Recalls Germany, 1933.” Not to be outdone, Daniel Schorr of CBS News simply made up and reported a story that Goldwater was in touch with the neo-Nazis in Germany. The London Observer, usually a sober publication, found “disquieting similarities” between Hitler and Goldwater. Does this sound like Glenn Beck, David Brooks and Stephen Hayes, all of whom have equated Trump with the Fuhrer in the last two weeks?

Those who don’t study history are condemned to repeat it. Just as they ignored Barry Goldwater’s inexorable march to the party’s presidential nomination,  party regulars ignored Donald Trump’s rise as the probable Republican nominee. This time the role of Bill Scranton is played by Mitt Romney who, after months of silence issued a blistering attack on Trump as part of a last ditch attempt to block the brash billionaire. 

Well-connected super PACs have dumped at least $30 million dollars into blistering negative TV ads against Trump in the last ten days. The New York Times reported that the Rubio and Kasich campaigns are now openly planning on a “brokered convention” to stop Trump in the back rooms in Cleveland. The New York Daily News reported that Barbara Bush has vowed revenge against Trump for ending the “low energy” campaign of her son Jeb, and that the Bush clan is all-in in the effort to stop Trump. The News reported that Jeb may transfer the $25 to $30 million in SuperPAC funds he has left to an anti-Trump effort.

The power brokers’ short-term game is clear; stall Trump just short of the magic number of delegates needed to be nominated on the first ballot with the knowledge that many delegates bound on the first ballot by Trump primary and caucus victories would be unbound on a second ballot. Much in the way the RNC stacked the galleries with anti-Trump partisans in at least two debates, anti-Trump quislings are being planted in various delegations that will be free to betray Trump on subsequent ballots.

Unlike 1980, when the GOP Establishment recognized that Reagan was both unstoppable and electable and decided to co-opt him by saddling him with George Bush, this year the Insiders will stop at nothing to halt Trump’s coronation. The Wall Street-Capitol Hill combine is petrified by the prospect of a Trump presidency. As a self-funder, Trump cannot be influenced not to undo 30 years of two-party failure. Trump, quite simply, cannot be bought or bullied.

In fact, the Huffington Post noted that none other than Karl Rove and neocon bombthrower Bill Kristol met secretly in Sea Island, Georgia with Apple CEO Tim Cook, Google co-founder Larry Page, Napster creator and Facebook investor Sean Parker, and Tesla Motors and SpaceX honcho Elon Musk. Also attending were Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), House Speaker Paul Ryan, GOP Sens. Tom Cotton (Ark.), Cory Gardner (Colo.), Tim Scott (S.C.), Rob Portman (Ohio) and Ben Sasse (Neb.), who recently made news by saying he “cannot support Donald Trump.” House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Fred Upton (Mich.) was there, as well as Rep. Kevin Brady (Texas) and almost-Speaker Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), along with leadership figure Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash.), Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-Ga.), Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (Texas) and Diane Black (Tenn.). Philip Anschutz, the billionaire GOP donor, was also there, along with Democratic Rep. John Delaney, (D- Maryland). Arthur Sulzberger, the publisher of The New York Times, was there, too, a Times spokeswoman confirmed. The topic on the table? Stopping Donald Trump.

As Ben Jacobs noted in the Guardian: 

In addition, in many states delegates are in fact selected in an entirely separate process from the primaries currently being carried out under such vast media scrutiny. In the event of a contested convention, the primary voters’ decisions in such states like Michigan and Virginia potentially could be completely ignored by the delegates. According to the prevailing interpretation of current Republican National Committee rules though, delegates are bound on the first ballot by the results of their state’s nominating contest. However, after that, many (the rules vary state by state) can do what they want. Furthermore, the convention itself decides what rules govern it, and delegates are not bound when it comes to votes on changing the rules.

Working with former Missouri Republican State Chairman Ed Martin, I laid out the ins and outs of the so-called brokered convention for Breitbart before many.

Goldwater sealed his nomination with a win in the California primary. While Trump appears strong in California, things in the Golden State may not be so golden. The legal word which binds the CA delegation is “shall,” which has been deemed by SCOTUS ‎as a “may.” The make up of the delegate slate is very important. There could be a lot of “Trump delegates” that are bound by the word “may.” There is zero repercussion outlined for those delegates who vote for a candidate to whom they are not bound.

Trump is not without cards in a so-called brokered convention. In 1952, the Eisenhower forces unseated Taft delegates from Texas in a celebrated credentials fight, handing Ike the nomination. They did so by challenging irregularities in the way the delegates were elected. There are currently over 600 reports in at least six counties, including Dallas County and Travis County, of voter fraud in Texas. In virtually every case, votes cast for Donald J. Trump were tallied for Senator Marco Rubio. Almost immediately, Trump partisans collected over 300 complaints from Oklahoma. Only a week later, the Kansas and Maine Caucuses brought hundreds of more complaints, including claims of double voting by supporters of Sen. Ted Cruz. In the event a pattern is determined, the seating of these delegations can be challenged before the Credentials committee of the Republican National Convention. Find out more at The convention itself decides who may vote, and delegates are not bound when it comes to votes on credentials or rules.

Because most of the states that select delegates after March 15th are proportional, it is still entirely possible that Trump will ring up victory after victory and still fall short of the magic number on the first ballot. A second ballot would bring the would-be president to the fore. Cruz, Romney, Kasich, and Ryan have all signaled their willingness to be the man who “saves the party from Donald Trump.” Ryan declared his availability by announcing he is not available, a similar tactic that he used in his ascension to the Speakership. Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush are no longer able to be considered for the role given voters’ vehement rejection of both. Trump has his own card to play in a second-ballot scenario. As the candidate closest to 1,237 votes, he has the Vice Presidential nomination to bestow and no rival, including Cruz, remotely near the magic number.

Trump could roll up wins so big on March 15th that this doomsday scenario is aborted. But if Kasich wins Ohio and Cruz peels a few more small caucus states where the Trump campaign seems organizationally challenged, we could be headed for a shootout in Cleveland.


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