The top three competitors for the GOP nomination are now Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump. Cruz barely won Iowa, but Trump handily won South Carolina with Rubio beating Cruz for second and Jeb Bush dropping out. What does this signify?
South Carolina is one of the most Christian, conservative states in the union. This speaks volumes for Trump and against Cruz considering Trump’s less-than-religious appeal and Cruz’s normal attraction to religious elements. This signals Cruz’s decline from here. This leaves Rubio and Trump, who appeal to very different voting blocks.
Rubio is a polished, young, attractive politician, who seemingly comes from middle-class, immigrant material. But the more libertarian and independent elements of society may perceive him as establishment and untrustworthy. Trump, on the other hand, is seen by many as rogue, a leader, and non-establishment; but he is unpolished and potentially dangerous to the well-entrenched system. Many Rubio supporters would not support Trump, and vice-a-versa. Rand Paul supporters would stay home or vote for Bernie Sanders.
If Trump wins and faces Hillary Clinton, she would likely prevail because Trump is too large of an “X” factor for most Americans. If Rubio wins, the same would result because the anti-establishment, libertarian and independent voting segments would be unmotivated to vote for Rubio, giving Clinton an advantage. One must wonder: is the only chance of defeating Clinton in 2016 a Trump-Rubio ticket? Perhaps.
Could Marco Rubio play Robin to Donald Trump’s Batman? Probably not. They are too different. The hurdle of trust is too high. Rubio’s parents made a living as a bartender and a maid. Trump grew up in New York real estate. Trump projects the street smarts of a wise guy. Rubio has school smarts. He relies more on intellect than instinct. Trump wings it. Rubio has that hungry look – too ambitious for his own good. Trump is unlikely to trust him.
A Trump-John Kasich accommodation might be interesting. Kasich would calm some moderates’ nerves. He has experience and comes from Ohio, a state rich in delegates and history. Republicans have not done well with winning the state.
Further, Trump, with some knowledgeable, respected advisors might be hard to beat. He is whipping up and playing off a deep strain of discontent pervasive throughout the country and especially the struggling middle class. With Trump a change would be almost certain. With the addition of some experienced establishment types, a Trump team might take it all the way to the White House.
If Rubio outlasts Ted Cruz and becomes the anti-Trump, can he stop him? He’d need to step up his game and be able to trust his instincts, and do so quickly. Perhaps he can. Perhaps Trump will help by overplaying his hand. Perhaps we will all think twice before we vote.
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