"My center is yielding, my right is retreating. Excellent situation. I am attacking."
— Marshal Ferdinand Foch, Supreme Allied Commander, 1914
A Marshall Foch-like day has arrived — the Republican Party is being tested like it was in 1912, when it was ripped apart by President Teddy Roosevelt's egotistic third-party run against sitting President William Howard Taft. This time, it is minority-supported (less than 40 percent of Republicans) businessman Donald TrumpDonald TrumpFULL SPEECH: President Obama at the Democratic convention FULL SPEECH: Tim Kaine accepts Democratic VP nomination Kaine plays Trump attack dog amid trade protests MORE who is the culprit.
To win on the first convention ballot, a Republican presidential candidate must receive a majority vote of convention delegates (at least 1,237 votes). End of discussion. When, then, Trump declares that there could be riots at the July GOP convention in Cleveland if the nomination is not handed to him without a majority of delegates, Republicans must reject such drivel.
Many delegate counters suggest that the delegate mathematics facing Trump appear to keep him from securing the needed 1,237 votes on the first ballot. The party must prepare for an open convention and that convention must deny Trump the nomination if it wants to win the White House in November and keep the Senate and House.
Famed football coach Paul Brown once remarked, "Leave as little to chance as possible. Preparation is the key to success."
To succeed in nominating someone who can run a successful race for president, the party must prepare extremely well to prevent a Trump nomination. That starts with the Wisconsin primary: Trump must be stopped there. This would not be the first time Wisconsin obstructs a candidate’s path to the GOP nomination, by the way. Presidentially-fired Army Gen. Douglas MacArthur's behind-the-scene campaign for the 1952 GOP nomination came to an end in Wisconsin, when the state chose Gen. Eisenhower over his former boss in the primary. If Sen. Ted CruzTed CruzGrassroots battling establishment on trade at conventions Fixing the disastrous nomination process Attacking Trump for the few sensible things he says is bad strategy MORE (Texas) carries Wisconsin and some of its eight congressional districts, Trump's mathematical path to 1,237 delegate votes practically disappears.
Part of the preparation is for serious people to select potential candidates for the convention to support. And, of course, thy must settle on someone who will accept the nomination. Two names come to mind; pick one.
Sen. Rob PortmanRob PortmanDemocrats: We can win on guns The Trail 2016: One large crack in the glass ceiling Portman secures another union endorsement over Democratic challenger in Ohio MORE of Ohio, 61, former congressman, U.S. Trade Representative, and director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Portman carried 82 of 88 counties with 57 percent of the vote in Ohio, a state that President Obama carried in 2008 and 2012. As U.S. Trade Representative, he waged a fight with China in the World Trade Organization and won. He negotiated trade deals all over the world, spreading American products all over the world. His job as OMB director was praised by all. The Dartmouth graduate is described by at least one Democratic member of Congress, Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (Ohio), as "compared to other Republicans, [he] is pleasant and good to work with."
The Washington Post's Chris Cilliza wrote in 2012, when there was talk of Portman being chosen for vice president: "It's hard to imagine that even his staunchest Democratic opponents would be able to argue Portman wouldn't be up to the task of being vice president or even president."
The other choice might be former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, a decorated Vietnam War veteran, former prosecutor, former congressman and former governor of Pennsylvania. The Harvard graduate has never lost an election and was elected six times to the House of Representatives and was reelected governor of Pennsylvania with overwhelming vote totals in a Democratic-leaning state.
Either one of these men would be an ideal candidate to run against Clinton, who leads Trump in the RealClearPolitics average of national polls by 11.2 percentage points; the Fox News Poll has Clinton leading Trump by 10 points. Trump cannot win the election. If he is the nominee, Senate and House Republican majorities are in peril. The Republican convention must choose someone other than Trump for the party to have any possibility of winning the White House and continuing majorities in both houses of Congress.
Portman and Ridge are excellent choices to carry the GOP banner in November. As to potential vice presidential candidates to run with either of these two, we would suggest one of Gov. Brian Sandoval of Nevada, Gov. Susana Martinez of New Mexico or the clincher, everyone's second choice, visionary Sen. Marco RubioMarco RubioGroups unendorse Grayson after domestic violence allegations Trump postpones Hispanic roundtable Tim Kaine backs call to boost funding for Israeli missile defense MORE of Florida.
Carrying Ohio or Pennsylvania with a Florida win would mean victory.
Contreras formerly wrote for the New American News Service of The New York Times Syndicate.