How can things get worse for Republicans? Jeb Bush turned out to be a terrible candidate. Marco Rubio turned out to be an annoying twit. Donald Trump is a nightmare. Something had to be done, and so the solid, steady moderate elite decided the best strategy was to rally around … Ted Cruz.
Welcome to worse.
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They were terrified of Trump, whose short list of foreign policy advisers includes a 2009 college graduate with a resume that boasts he once took part in a Model United Nations. Far better plan to nominate Cruz, whose list includes a guy who wrote an opinion piece suggesting President Barack Obama is a Muslim, and a woman who thinks Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s judgment about communists in the federal government was “spot on.”
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They thought Trump would be such an unpopular nominee that the party would face a historic disaster in November. Obviously, the way to improve chances was to support the most actively disliked Republican politician in America.
Our question for today is, Why aren’t these people rallying around John Kasich? The Ohio governor is the other Trump alternative, far and away the sanest member of the trio. True, he’s kind of boring, but that doesn’t seem all that terrible a quality when you’re comparing him with Cruz, who is, at his best, excruciatingly irritating.
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Sen. Lindsey Graham started the trend of people who loathe Ted Cruz endorsing him to be president of the United States. He admitted that Kasich would be a better candidate in November, but claimed that the governor would never get the nomination because he’s “seen as an insider.” Mitt Romney, who announced he’d be voting for Cruz in Utah, made it clear that he likes Kasich. But he said Cruz had a better chance of denying Trump the nomination.
Yes, Romney wanted to make sure he could strike a blow against Trump’s “bigotry” and “xenophobia.” So he threw his weight behind Cruz, who called for police patrols in American Muslim neighborhoods “before they become radicalized.”
”I don’t try to figure them out,” Kasich said in a phone interview. “Everybody decides these things on the basis of — I don’t know what.”
The official Republican world now contains people who took a dive and endorsed Trump, the ones who’ve endorsed Cruz and pretended it was a profile in courage, and the ones still sitting on the fence. They all look miserable.
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Wouldn’t you think a few would just say, “Look, I know Kasich is behind in delegates, but he behaves in the way I want our party to be.” It would be a nice moment, wouldn’t it? But so far, the list of people who’ve gone there is pretty much confined to one ex-governor.
This week Trump and Cruz had a fight about … their wives. An anti-Trump super PAC circulated an old picture of Melania Trump from GQ, posing more or less nude, with the message: “Meet Melania Trump. Your next first lady. Or, you could support Ted Cruz on Tuesday.”
Now, candidates don’t control political action committees, but the Cruz campaign does have a history of dirty tricks, so you could imagine even a less lunatic person than Trump getting angry. Then Trump, in his inimitable way, threatened to “spill the beans” on Heidi Cruz. Leave the families alone! What this country needs is a bean-free election.
The State’s Endorsement: Kasich is the best candidate to break through DC gridlock
Or at least candidates who can talk about terrorism without being terrifying. After the Brussels bombing, Cruz called for those police patrols, and bragged that he could say something so daring only because he wasn’t afraid of being politically incorrect. Trump hyperventilated about waterboarding. Meanwhile, Kasich issued a statement about international cooperation in the war against terror. You’d think that would have moved somebody.
But no. “Friend — I wanted you to be the first to know that today I am endorsing Ted Cruz for President,” Jeb Bush wrote in an email Wednesday morning.
Some political observers believe that he’s trying to protect the political future of his son, George P. Bush, who is the Texas land commissioner. If that’s the case, noncommitted Republicans, you really should consider voting for John Kasich just to make it clear that you are not interested in having any more members of the Bush family in line for the presidency.
“I did get a text from Jeb at 5:30 in the morning, but no phone calls,” Kasich reported.
None of these new converts to the Cruz camp seems to have any actual arguments about Cruz being a good potential president. Bush, in his announcement, complained that “Washington is broken” but made no attempt whatsoever to explain how things would be improved by the nomination of a senator whose sole achievement in office was an effort to shut down the government. Maybe they think if Cruz is the spoiler at the convention, it’ll be easier to shove him away to make room for a brand new superhero? (Looking at you, Mitt.)
Follow Ms. Collins on Twitter @nytimescollins.