‘Dump Trump’ effort struggles to gain popularity
As Trump cements his front-runner status, senior party figures hope to deny him enough delegates to clinch the nomination
A plan to block Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump struggled to gain traction on Friday as rival candidates rejected it, while Democrats reveled in the chaos they hoped would boost their chances of keeping the White House.
The country’s top elected Republican, House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, said he was not interested in an effort to draft him into the White House race.
And U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, a conservative presidential hopeful, ruled out a deal to pick a compromise Republican candidate at the party’s July convention, which senior party figures see as their best chance to stop the unpredictable billionaire.
“The D.C. power brokers will drop someone in who is exactly to the liking of the establishment. If that will happen we will have a manifold revolt in this country,” Cruz said at the Conservative Political Action Conference outside Washington.
“You want to beat Donald Trump, you beat Donald Trump with the voters,” he said.
Party leaders worry Trump would not be able to beat Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton in the election, but time is running out after he won most of the states that voted in this week’s Super Tuesday.
Senior Republicans also fear Trump’s plans to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border and ban Muslims from entering the United States will turn off voters in November and upset U.S. allies.
Others note his past support for liberal policies and question whether he has any agenda other than advancing himself.
The real estate magnate, who is drawing support from many blue-collar Republicans concerned about illegal immigration and stagnant wages, has won most Republican nominating contests and leads in many polls for the primary contests still to come.
“I’m not a normal Republican,” he said to huge cheers at a rally in Warren, Michigan.
As Trump cements his front-runner status, senior party figures hope to deny him enough delegates to clinch the nomination, which would give them the chance to choose a compromise candidate at their convention in Cleveland.
Mitt Romney and John McCain, the party’s last two presidential nominees, called on Republicans to halt Trump’s rise by backing whichever candidate was strongest in their state, a form of tactical voting.
Few elected officials are rallying behind the “Dump Trump” banner. The party’s 31 state governors, for example, are not lining up behind an alternative. Only five have endorsed Florida Senator Marco Rubio and one has backed Cruz, in a sharp contrast to previous years when governors overwhelmingly endorsed the party’s eventual nominee.
Trump is expected to extend his lead on Saturday, when a total of 155 delegates are at stake in Kansas, Louisiana, Maine and Kentucky.