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Dick Morris: Why Rubio can’t win

Dick Morris: Why Rubio can’t win
© Greg Nash

Chris Christie has crashed, John Kasich is ghettoized, Scott Walker self-destructed and nobody bought the idea of Jeb Bush, and now all the king’s horses and all the king’s men — and Fox News — are trying to shove Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioSaudi mystery drives wedge between Trump, GOP Overnight Defense: Trump worries Saudi Arabia treated as 'guilty until proven innocent' | McConnell opens door to sanctions | Joint Chiefs chair to meet Saudi counterpart | Mattis says Trump backs him '100 percent' Dems can use subpoena power to reclaim the mantle of populism MORE down the throats of the Republican electorate.

But they’ll never make the sale.

The fundamental fault line that runs through the middle of the Republican and Democratic parties is that which separates the establishment from the true believers. And nothing is clearer than the fact that nobody will cross that line unless there is absolutely no other option.

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The basic strategy of the hysterics about Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke's debate showdown Arpaio files libel suit against New York Times IMF's Christine Lagarde delays trip to Middle East MORE’s ascendance is to force an amalgamation of the alternatives into a Great White Hope who can take on The Donald. It’s thought that Trump can only win a plurality and not a majority. Based on that reasoning, those who oppose a Trump candidacy posit that all they have to do is to pick off the alternatives until there is only one remaining opponent to Trump. And they have decided that his name is Marco Rubio.

The defect in this thesis is that it ignores the fault line. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulSaudi mystery drives wedge between Trump, GOP Noisy democracy, or rude people behaving like children? Lawmakers, Wall Street shrug off Trump's escalating Fed attacks MORE voters didn’t go to Rubio, they went to Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzFive takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke's debate showdown O'Rourke's mom discusses past Dem votes after labeled 'lifelong Republican' by son Live coverage: Cruz faces O'Rourke in Texas debate showdown MORE. Ben Carson supporters would do likewise. 

And, should Rubio best Cruz and force his withdrawal, his votes would not go to the Florida senator. They would go right to Trump. 

From the start of the race, Cruz has managed to cleave as closely to Trump as possible without merging identities. Even as they have drawn apart, his attacks on the businessman have focused on his lack of consistency in backing the conservative agenda. If the Texan were no longer in contention, his voters would flock to the more rough-hewn alternative of Trump and not the smooth establishment charm of Rubio.

Each senator, congressman or governor who lines up to support Rubio brings with him the kiss of death. They announce his fidelity to an agenda and style of accommodation that is precisely what the Republican rebels can’t stand. With each endorsement, he becomes less the Marco of the Tea Party and, instead, the Marco of the unpopular establishment politics of John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerThe Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Citi — House postpones Rosenstein meeting | Trump hits Dems over Medicare for all | Hurricane Michael nears landfall Kavanaugh becomes new flashpoint in midterms defined by anger Juan Williams: The GOP can't govern MORE and Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGraham: I hope Dems 'get their ass kicked' for conduct around Kavanaugh Saudi mystery drives wedge between Trump, GOP Overnight Defense: Trump worries Saudi Arabia treated as 'guilty until proven innocent' | McConnell opens door to sanctions | Joint Chiefs chair to meet Saudi counterpart | Mattis says Trump backs him '100 percent' MORE

Rubio is fundamentally weak. He is buffeted by outside forces and tries to walk a fine line of consensus among them. He appears to waffle from one side to another, not only to deceive but also to keep his balance like a tightrope walker carrying a barbell.

The would-be kingmakers are relying on massive amounts of money to elect Rubio. And they rely on huge doses of propaganda every night from Fox News. But to the extent that they push Rubio, they are trying to make a sale that the GOP outsiders won’t buy. And to the extent that they try to knock Cruz, they are creating votes for Trump.

No matter how you slice and dice it, the Republican electorate is 2-to-1 against the party’s leadership. Whether they express their discontent by backing Trump or Cruz or Paul or Carson or Mike Huckabee or Rick Santorum doesn’t really matter. The candidates are fungible. It is the posture of animosity to the deal-making and craven refusal to stand up to Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaGOP group makes late play in Iowa seat once seen as lost Chance the Rapper works as Lyft driver to raise money for Chicago schools Americans are safer from terrorism, but new threats are arising MORE that they oppose.

Rubio can never span that divide.

The winner of this race for the GOP nomination will be either Trump or Cruz — and the party establishment better get used to it.

 

Morris, who served as adviser to former Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and former President Clinton, is the author of 17 books, including his latest, “Power Grab: Obama’s Dangerous Plan for a One Party Nation” and “Here Come the Black Helicopters.” To get all of his and Eileen McGann’s columns for free by email, go to dickmorris.com.