There is still time for Romney
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"[T]onight we close one chapter in history and begin another," presumptive GOP nominee Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpVenezuela judge orders prison time for 6 American oil executives Trump says he'll leave White House if Biden declared winner of Electoral College The Memo: Biden faces tough road on pledge to heal nation MORE told a room full of supporters after winning victories in New Jersey and South Dakota.


It was meant to be the definitive moment in which the turning could be expected. Trump would be finished now with the Howard Stern schtick, the shock-jock motif mocking everyone in the line of fire: 2012 nominee Mitt Romney walks like a penguin, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina is ugly, 2008 nominee John McCainJohn Sidney McCainJuan Williams: Obama's dire warnings about right-wing media Democrats' squabbling vindicates Biden non-campaign McSally, staff asked to break up maskless photo op inside Capitol MORE is no a war hero. And Latino immigrants? "Criminals" and "rapists." There would be no more of that. Trump had announced his second act.

But the timing was awkward. Most felt Trump had made the turning to the second act more than a month ago. They were still waiting. Said here on May 5:

After the Indiana GOP primary on Tuesday, it seemed the beginning of something. And it turned so quickly when Texas Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzO'Brien on 2024 talk: 'There's all kinds of speculation out there' Ocasio-Cortez, Cruz trade jabs over COVID-19 relief: People 'going hungry as you tweet from' vacation McSally, staff asked to break up maskless photo op inside Capitol MORE left the race in the night. Something had ended, something had begun and Ohio Gov. John Kasich felt it as well by noon the next day, when he announced that he would also leave the race. The race to the Republican nomination was over; tycoon Donald Trump had won.

In spite of all the crudities and high school hallway chatter, there was good reason to be optimistic. America was and is at a turning and the moment of turning might have arrived. The heartland was awakening, had been awakening for more than a decade. America had begun to change in the way it thinks about federal government, about state and regional self-sufficiency and a new Jacksonian spirit had been rising since former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) rousted the crowd at The Alamo, the place of America's second great awakening, chanting, "States' rights, states' rights, states' rights ... !" on April 15, 2009.

Between former Rep. Ron Paul's (R-Texas) call for a new approach to foreign policy, the introduction of a gold-based economic policy and Austrian economics to the discussion; Perry’s book, "Fed up! Our Fight to Save America from Washington" in 2010 and his soaring manifesto at the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference calling for regional economic competition in the states and the devolution of power; then, in 2015, current Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) leading Texas and 25 other states to challenge what he called the "lawless trampling on the Constitution" by President Obama over his executive action on immigration, the table had been fully set.

This rising movement — called a "Second American Revolution" by Trends 2000 guru Gerald Celente — was well underway long before the 2016 primary, demanded essentially by a West-heading economy and demographic change since World War II. The hard work had been done by those above mentioned. There would be no need by now for a Rousseau, a Bismarck, a Jefferson, a Jackson or a Kennedy. All that was needed was a charismatic leader: a showman, a salesman, a song-and-dance man to sell it. And that was the promise and optimism brought by Trump. The rank and file yielded in their criticism and gave him the benefit of the doubt.

But the second act did not come. The slanders and despicable racist diatribes continued, repeating the same vulgar strategy of the first phase of the primary, coming to a boil when Trump declared that federal Judge Gonzalo Curiel could not fairly judge in the Trump University suit because of his Mexican heritage.

There is, there will be, no second act from Trump. But we have reached the turning. And that turning occurred when, as The New York Times reported, "Speaker Paul D. Ryan, the nation's highest-ranking Republican, on Tuesday called Donald J. Trump's remarks about a Latino judge 'racist,' an extraordinary indictment that generated a fresh wave of criticism and panic from other Republicans. By the end of the day, Mr. Trump was forced into a rare moment of damage control and said that his words had been 'misconstrued.'"

But this time, Trump's strategy was clear and his claim was too late and not enough. Ryan brings a tidal change now and the Republicans will now come out of their corner. There is still time and this week especially, as Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump says he'll leave White House if Biden declared winner of Electoral College Federal workers stuck it out with Trump — now, we're ready to get back to work Biden soars as leader of the free world MORE has taken the Democratic nomination, the stakes could not be higher. Now is the time for a pragmatic approach to winning, hopefully one to advance to the promised future, rather a retreat to the past.

For the first, Mitt Romney is still being called up, most recently in a plea from the heart of a Weekly Standard writer. The call for Romney has never really stopped. The new senator from Nebraska, Ben Sasse, who has never wavered in his opposition to Trump, should be considered for the second spot. Although the earthy and good-natured Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa, who came in with Sasse, would make them squeal, and offer a vivid contrast to Hillary Clinton.

There is still time. But not much. 

Quigley is a prize-winning writer who has worked more than 35 years as a book and magazine editor, political commentator and reviewer. He lives in New Hampshire with his wife and four children. Contact him at