Monday, June 20, 2016

806 Trump rise shows Israeli grip on American policymaking is weakening

Trump rise shows Israeli grip on American policymaking is weakening

Newsletter published on 15 March 2016

(1) Trump rise shows Israel’s grip on American policymaking is weakening
(2) Trump breaks "unconditional support for Israel" prerequisite for GOP
candidates
(3) Trump could dismantle the pro-Israel bloc in Congress; and would
force Israel to accept 2-state solution
(4) Cruz criticizes Trump "neutrality" on Mid-East; Kasich rejects
two-state solution
(5) Republican Jews' Silence on Trump
(6) GOP's Jewish donors Sheldon Adelson and Paul Singer plotted against
Trump

(1) Trump rise shows Israel’s grip on American policymaking is weakening

Netanyahu’s Loosening Grip, xTrump neutrality so that he can broker a
peace deal

https://consortiumnews.com/2016/03/10/netanyahus-loosening-grip/
https://www.facebook.com/Consortiumnewscom-150931404928776/
http://ift.tt/226hBoW

Netanyahu’s Loosening Grip

Pandering to Israel has been a long-revered rule of U.S. politics, but
Donald Trump’s refusal has shown that Israel’s grip on American
policymaking is weakening, writes Lawrence Davidson.

By Lawrence Davidson

March 10, 2016

On March 3, Chemi Shaley, the U.S. correspondent for the Israeli
newspaper Haaretz, wrote an interesting piece on what the Donald Trump
phenomenon means for U.S.-Israeli relations. Here are some of his points:

     Trump’s insistence on staying "neutral" when it comes to the
Israeli-Palestinian problem has not cost him any popular support. Both
Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio have "sneeringly lambasted" Trump for not
supporting Israel, but to no avail. Trump just "laughed all the way to
the top of the Republican presidential field."

     Republican evangelicals are paying no mind to Trump’s equivocations
about Israel. They vote for Trump despite this. "Evangelical leaders …
are heartbroken that so many Believers are flocking after the thrice
married, dirty-talking reality star. They are less perturbed by his
deviation from the strict pro-Israel party line, however, and more by
the sinful ways for which he has not asked forgiveness."

     Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s policy decision to
"put all of Israel’s eggs in the GOP basket" – a decision confirmed when
he appeared before Congress in 2015 to denounce the Iran nuclear
agreement – has turned into a political disaster.

Waning Interest in Israel (U.S. Gentiles)

The rise of Donald Trump certainly suggests that the right-wing Israeli
politicians badly misread the Republican political scene. Trump has
tapped into a large and growing stratum of citizens who never cared very
much about foreign policy, much less Israel-Palestine specifically.

And, now that that indifference has been plainly revealed on the
Republican side of the ledger, it may not be long before Democratic
voters also start to say, loud enough for their leaders to hear, that
Israel isn’t important to them either. As Shaley suggests, what is
happening here is the exposure of Israel’s weakness in the United States.

Thus, for the first time it is becoming publicly noticeable that a lot
of voters don’t regard Israel as a linchpin ally upholding democracy in
the Middle East. In fact, Israel simply is not a priority as far as they
are concerned. However, start emphasizing to this largely
isolationist-minded crowd the huge amount of their tax money that goes
to Israel, and not caring might quickly turn to hostility. Mr. Trump is
certainly not above providing the little push necessary for this to
happen. How might this scenario play itself out?

If Trump becomes president and, like most of his predecessors, tries to
settle the Israel-Palestine problem, he will no doubt be met with not
only the usual Israeli stonewalling, but outright hostility. After all,
Trump as president will have to deal with Netanyahu as prime minister
and they are alike in that both tend to "shoot from the lip."

As Shaley points out, "Trump refuses to acknowledge United Jerusalem
[and] wants to remain neutral so that he can broker a peace deal with
the Palestinians, which is a challenge worthy of a master dealmaker like
him."

Netanyahu will loudly express his opposition. Perhaps he will refuse to
deal with Trump at all. But Trump, unlike Obama, will not respond to
Netanyahu’s insults with discretion. He will readily blame Israel for
any failure and do it loudly and disparagingly. Then he might start to
publicly question why the U.S. should be wasting vast amounts of
treasure on such an unthankful nation as Israel. This could be a public
relations disaster from which the Israelis will not be able to recover.

Waning Interest in Israel (U.S. Jews)

As an Israeli born and bred to the perennial fear of anti-Semitism,
Shaley senses a danger in Trump not only to Israel but to Jews in general:

"The Jews will run away from Trump because he scares them. Because his
demagoguery is ominous, his willingness to slash and burn anyone
standing in his way is disturbing, his tendency to incite his supporters
against other ethnic groups … is a source of deep anxiety."

All of this may be true, but so is the important point Shaley makes that
"the Jews won’t be fleeing Trump because of his policies toward Israel."
In other words, increasing numbers of U.S. Jews are losing patience in
the ever stubborn shenanigans of the Zionist state. And as they do so,
Israel loses their support.

The truth is that today’s Zionists have bought a U.S. political elite
and not much more. Right now they can rely on a thin veneer of politicos
who are in the process of losing influence with an alienated citizenry.

When the politicians make their adjustments to this new environment, one
of the casualties may well be the U.S. alliance with Israel. Hillary,
Bernie, Ted and Marco may be the last generation of American politicians
who will give Benjamin Netanyahu and his ilk the time of day.

Lawrence Davidson is a history professor at West Chester University in
Pennsylvania. He is the author of Foreign Policy Inc.: Privatizing
America’s National Interest; America’s Palestine: Popular and Official
Perceptions from Balfour to Israeli Statehood; and Islamic Fundamentalism.

(2) Trump breaks "unconditional support for Israel" prerequisite for GOP
candidates


http://www.haaretz.com/world-news/u-s-election-2016/1.706970

Trump’s Triumphs Demolish Netanyahu’s Fortress GOP Strategy

The N.Y. tycoon is decimating the three legs of blanket Republican
support for Israel: Evangelicals, Jews and interventionist hawks.

Chemi Shalev Mar 03, 2016 11:59 PM

In their Super Tuesday speeches, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio tried to use
an Israel hammer to bash Donald Trump. Cruz sneeringly lambasted him for
saying he would remain "neutral" while Rubio trounced Trump for trying
to stay "impartial", as his audience booed accordingly. And Trump? Trump
was racking up victories, amassing delegates and laughing all the way to
the top of the Republican presidential field.

In this way, the New York billionaire is decimating the conventional
wisdom, one of many, that in 2016, total and unconditional support for
Israel is a prerequisite for any aspiring GOP candidate wishing to run
for president; that such a pledge of allegiance to Israel, in general,
and to Benjamin Netanyahu, in particular, is a threshold requirement for
gaining the support of Evangelicals, who set the tone during primary
season; and that the flow of sympathy for Israel from liberal Democrats
to conservative Republicans is inevitable, perhaps even desirable, and
in any case unstoppable.

But exactly a year after Netanyahu took this logic to its extreme and
stood on the podium of Congress as Leader of the Republican opposition
to President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran, the conception is falling
apart. The notion that the Republican Party is a monolithic bastion of
support that will withstand the test of time is evaporating. The belief
that any Republican president who will follow Obama will be better for
Israel is eroding with each passing day. Faced with the Trump
phenomenon, Netanyahu’s Fortress GOP strategy is collapsing like a house
of cards.

And it doesn’t really make that much difference whether Trump is a
"phony" who is pulling the wool over the GOP’s innocent eyes, as former
presidential contender Mitt Romney asserted in his astonishingly harsh
speech on Thursday, or whether Trump has simply exposed the dark
subterranean streams of jingoism and prejudice and resentment of Jews
that were there all along. If Trump is the Republican candidate, never
mind if he’s elected president, Israel’s place in American politics and
possibly around the world will be put in question. But if Romney’s scary
portrayal of Trump is even half true, that should be the least of our
worries. NBC

In the outgoing dogmatic GOP, Trump’s equivocations would have earned
him a place in the all-time rogues gallery of Enemies of the Jewish
People, somewhere between Obama and Father Coughlin. Today, Evangelicals
shrug them off and continue to vote for Trump, as they did this week in
Alabama, Georgia, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia.

Every time Cruz and Rubio try to hit Trump over the head with an Israel
club and nothing happens, it is Israel’s weakness that is exposed. Every
time Trump wins a party primary without challenge from his supporters,
another nail is driven into the coffin of the unshakeable alliance
between Israel and America’s deep right.

And it’s not as if Trump is really anti-Israel; hardly. Like in most
other complex policy issues on which he has spoken, Trump is mainly
incoherent, improvising as he goes along, shooting from the lip, saying
one thing one day and the opposite the next. He is "totally a friend" of
Israel, Obama is "the most horrible president ever" for Israel, and the
Iran deal is a joke. But Trump refuses to acknowledge United Jerusalem,
wants to remain "neutral" so that he can broker a peace deal with the
Palestinians, which is a challenge worthy of a master dealmaker like
him. If he fails, he’s already made clear, Israel will be to blame.

Trump not only diverts the Republican leadership from uniform automatic
support for Netanyahu, he is destroying the internal coalition that was
the lynchpin of the party’s strong pro-Israel stance. Evangelical
support for Trump has already sparked an internal rupture, which has
some experts declaring the death of America’s Religious Right.
Evangelical leaders and many of their supporters in the media are
heartbroken that so many Believers are flocking after the thrice
married, dirty-talking reality star. They are less perturbed by his
deviation from the strict pro-Israel party line, however, and more by
the sinful ways for which he has not asked forgiveness.

If Trump becomes their candidate, the GOP will lose its most hawkish,
most neoconservative and most pro-Israel secular elements as well. They
are repelled not only by his indecipherable positions on Israel but also
by his harsh criticism of George Bush and the Iraq War, his undisguised
adulation of dictators for Vladimir Putin to Bashar Assad, his all round
belligerence and his neo-isolationist vision of making America great
again within its hermetically sealed walls. "As president, he would use
the authority of his office to act in ways that make America less safe,
and which would diminish our standing in the world" according to public
letter signed by 50 GOP national security stalwarts, many of them known
for their pro-Israel positions. "We commit ourselves to working
energetically to prevent the election of someone so utterly unfitted to
the office."

The third leg of the GOP’s pro-Israel array that Trump is eviscerating
are the Jews. Although Sheldon Adelson’s ongoing silence has caused some
people to suspect he will end up supporting Trump, other big time Jewish
donors, including hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer, have placed their
money on his currently losing rivals. And the Republican hope that 2016
will finally see the long awaited migration of Jews disappointed by
Obama to the GOP is dashed once again. Trump hardly stands a chance of
garnering 30% of the Jewish vote, as Romney did in 2012, never mind the
40% that Rubio might reasonably be expected to receive. He’s more likely
to revert the GOP’s Jewish vote in the direction of the 11% that George
Bush Sr. got in 1992, or the 10% that Barry Goldwater received in 1964.

But the Jews won’t be fleeing Trump because of his policies towards
Israel or because he refuses to repeat Cruz and Rubio’s inane pledge to
tear the Iranian nuclear deal apart on their first day in office. The
Jews won’t abandon Trump because he’s married for the third time, or
because he went bankrupt four times, or because he uses dirty words
whenever he can. They certainly won’t desert Trump because of his
positions on abortion, health care or separation of church and state,
which are more aligned with theirs than Cruz’s, Rubio’s or Kasich’s.

The Jews will run away from Trump because he scares them. Because his
demagoguery is ominous, his willingness to slash and burn anyone
standing in his way is disturbing, his tendency to incite his supporters
against other ethnic groups from rapist Mexicans to terrorist Muslims,
is a source of deep anxiety. Beneath the great wave of popular support
for Trump one can make out with increasing clarity the dark
undercurrents of rage and resentment and xenophobia that is often seen
morphing into White supremacism and abhorrence of African Americans and
then, on the outskirts, bad old hatred of the Jews. The allusions to
Germany in the 1930’s are absurd, no doubt, but nonetheless surfacing
with ever-increasing frequency.

Trump’s dithering resistance to a clear and unequivocal condemnation of
David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan set the alarm bells ringing. Add to that
the disturbing incidents in which African Americans are brutally
manhandled at Trump events, in some cases by American Nazis who laud
Trump for "resisting Jewish money." Grotesquely, that was the connection
made this week between Duke, who hates Jews and blacks, and Louis
Farrakhan, who loathes Jews and whites.

The Trump phenomenon reinforces the long held claim that part of the
alliance of shared values between Israel and the American extreme right
is based on a warped and racist view of Israel as a forward post of
white civilization against the darker barbarians at the gate. Israelis
who have cast themselves as Republicans have taken scant interest in the
domestic side of the GOP, with which some of them might even agree. Many
of them will continue to view Trump as a desirable heir to Muslim Obama
and alternative to a radical Hillary Clinton. Others will console
themselves with the thought that once elected, Trump will become another
man. Still others will yearn for his victory, if only to confound
Netanyahu and satisfy their own Schadenfreude.

But most people, possibly in Israel and definitely around the world,
will prudently pray for the GOP to get rid of Trump, and failing that,
for Clinton or Bernie Sanders to defeat him in November. At the same
time, they would do well to undo Netanyahu’s frivolous decision to put
all of Israel’s eggs in the GOP basket, which is unraveling in front of
our very eyes.

(3) Trump could dismantle the pro-Israel bloc in Congress; and would
force Israel to accept 2-state solution

http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/1.700565

A President Trump Could Be Netanyahu's Worst Nightmare

Because hell hath no fury like a Donald scorned and because his election
could dismantle the pro-Israel bloc in Congress.

Chemi Shalev Feb 07, 2016 5:23 PM

[...] Because Trump is no wimp, as the Republicans like to describe
Obama: he is a major-league championship brawler. He’s always spoiling
for a fight. He doesn’t play by the rules but makes them up as he goes
along. Even in the rough and tumble struggle of politics there are
boundaries and regulations: Trump does Mixed Martial Arts with ear
biting, eye gouging and ego crushing allowed. [...]

But Trump is a Republican, you might respond, and Republicans
wholeheartedly support Israel and Netanyahu lock, stock and barrel, no
questions asked. That might be true of other Republicans, but it is
certainly not completely applicable to Trump. He has pointedly refused
to declare that he would rip up the Iran nuclear deal in his first day
in office, like Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio; he recently pledged to move the
U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, but has not retracted his refusal to
recognize its undivided unity, despite the boos he garnered at the
Republican Jewish Coalition. "You can’t go in with the attitude ‘we’re
gonna shove it down your,’ you’ve got to go in and get it and do and do
it nicely, so that everybody’s happy," Trump said. Thank god it wasn’t a
Democrat who said that, because Trump would have torn him to shreds.

In 2004, Trump reportedly said he could achieve Israeli-Palestinian
peace in two weeks; last December it was up to 6 months. But Trump is
certainly aware of what will be required in order to achieve peace in
two weeks, six months or two years: 2 states, 1967 borders with swaps,
shared Jerusalem. Perhaps that’s why Trump has said he didn’t know
whether Israelis and Palestinians wanted peace; he was not only being
evenhanded, he seemed to be placing more of the blame on Israel.

"A lot will have to do with Israel and whether or not Israel wants to
make the deal — whether or not Israel's willing to sacrifice certain
things," Trump said. "They may not be, and I understand that, and I'm OK
with that. But then you're just not going to have a deal."

Just as he as in other areas, Trump has succeeded in swaying hard core
Republicans to come to his side - without adhering to their hitherto
sacred dogmas. He curries favor with right wingers by defaming Mexicans
and Muslims and promising to make America great again, whatever that
means, but his positions on issues such as defense, taxation,
healthcare, and big government, to name but a few, stray so far from
conservative mainstays that many of them have rallied against him, as
the recent issue of National Review devoted to trashing Trump showed.

Trump has expressed general support for Israel but has steadfastly
refused to join the pack of GOP candidates who routinely hand over the
reins of America’s Middle East policies to Netanyahu. Even Israel-loving
Evangelicals are flocking to his side, despite the fact that he hasn’t
canonized Netanyahu as his patron saint. Trump hasn’t promised to call
"my good friend" Netanyahu first thing when he gets into the White
House, like Carly Fiorina; he hasn’t pledged to refrain from making
peace or even "lecturing" Israelis, like Ted Cruz; he certainly hasn’t
endorsed the annexation of the West Bank, like Mike Huckabee, or
described the Palestinians as "an invented people" as Newt Gingrich did
in 2012.

Much has already been made of the fact that Trump isn’t beholden to
"right wing Jewish money", mainly that of Sheldon Adelson. He made that
point rather rudely and crudely when he appeared before the RJC in
December. "You’re not going to support me because I don’t want your
money," Trump said. "Isn’t it crazy?" He added, "You want to control
your own politician."

But Trump is not only debunking the myth that Jewish money or support
for Israel is essential for any aspiring GOP candidate: he might
actually break the pro-Israel coalition that has been the mainstay of
Netanyahu’s support in Washington and has fueled Bibi’s desire to see
Mitt Romney replace Obama in 2012 and see Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz or even
Jeb Bush go to the White House in 2016. [...]

(4) Cruz criticizes Trump "neutrality" on Mid-East; Kasich rejects
two-state solution


http://www.haaretz.com/world-news/u-s-election-2016/1.708252

Criticism Redoubled Against Trump at Debate Over Stance on
Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Texas Senator Ted Cruz claims Palestinian Authority in unity government
with Hamas while Kasich says pursuing the two-state solution a "mistake."

Haaretz Mar 11, 2016 5:24 AM

A Republican president debate in Florida Thursday night took a quick
turn from national issues to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with
Texas Senator Ted Cruz repeating attacks on front-runner Donald Trump
for previously stating his intention to remain "neutral" on the subject,
in the hopes of negotiating a peace agreement if elected president.

Cruz highlighted his pro-Israel stance by telling the audience of the
death of Texas resident Taylor Force on Tuesday at the hands of a
Palestinian assailant. The Texas senator also claimed that the
Palestinian Authority is ruling in a unity government with Hamas, the
hard-line Islamist group in control of Gaza, though attempts at forming
such a government broke down in 2015.

Trump defended his comments by saying that Israel's security would be
his top priority in his approach to the conflict, but that he intended
to make an attempt at negotiating an agreement between Israel and the
Palestinians.

"There's nobody on this stage that's more pro-Israel than I am," Trump
added to boos. "I happen to have a son-in-law and daughter who are Jewish."

Florida Senator and presidential candidate Marco Rubio also weighed in
on the subject, saying that there is currently no possibility for a
peace deal because Israel has no realistic partner to work with.

The fourth candidate on the stage, Ohio Governor John Kasich, presented
a slightly different view on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, saying
that a negotiated deal is not a possibility and calling any attempts to
achieve such a deal, "a mistake."

Instead, said Kasich, the U.S. should continue supplying Israel with
whatever arms and equipment is required to protect the country from
security threats.

(5) Republican Jews' Silence on Trump

http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.707832

Republican Jews’ Damning Silence on Trump

If Trump is going to be stopped, it is going to be from within. Given
that Republican Jews are well-positioned to take him on, why aren’t they
actively sounding the alarm?

Lea Rappaport Geller Mar 09, 2016 11:26 AM

When pressed about his Jewishness in the most recent democratic debate,
Senator Bernie Sanders said he was not only proud to be Jewish, but that
because of his own family history, he himself was aware of the dangers
of radical and extremist politics.

Now that one Jewish question of this election has been addressed, what
about the second? Given that Donald Trump has large support from the
white nationalist movement, support he relies on not only to mobilize
votes, but also to help police his increasingly violent campaign
rallies, why aren’t more Jews, and specifically, more Republican Jews,
sounding the alarm about Trump? Are they too afraid of Hillary Clinton,
too convinced of their own safety, and all out of political ammunition?

It is no secret that white nationalist groups have delighted in and
supported the rise of Trump. Their support has been well documented.
Their leaders openly endorsed Trump and make robocalls for him in
advance of primaries, warning about the preservation of the white race.
("Don’t vote for a Cuban. Vote for Donald Trump.") They turn out in
large numbers to vote for him and attend his rallies in droves, often
acting as an informal security force. For his part, Trump has wobbled on
disavowing this support. (His son recently gave a radio interview to a
noted white nationalist and his campaign has given press credentials to
a white supremacist radio station.)

To be sure, Republicans who happen to be Jewish are upset about Trump,
but mostly because he’s bad for the brand. He’s not a true conservative,
they say. He could have just as easily run as a Democrat, they say. He’s
ruining the party, they say, and he’ll ruin the country while he’s at
it. But much of the criticism stops there. As we have seen this past
week, if Trump is going to be stopped, it is going to be from within.
Given this, and given that Republican Jews are well-positioned to take
on Trump, why the alarming silence?

Reason number one: Hillary Clinton. Now that it looks increasingly like
Trump could be the GOP nominee, attacking him directly could be seen as
a vote for Hillary.

If you go to the website of the RJC, the Republican Jewish Coalition,
you can click on links to contact your representative to complain about
the Obama administration’s "flirtation" with the BDS movement and you
can still read all about the votes on the Iranian nuclear deal. As for
the man who is running for president, the one whose supporters recently
raised their right hands and pledged to vote for him, the one who called
minority protestors "disgusting," the one who has openly mocked the
disabled – nothing.

Even some Republican Jewish pundits are afraid to attack Trump without
qualifying their attack. For example, a recent photograph showed Trumps
supporters all raising their arms in what looked like a Nazi salute, but
pundits are quick to remind us of a picture of Obama supporters holding
their hands to their hearts and similarly pledging loyalty. And while
many have agreed that years of race baiting and birther politics have
created the movement that Trump wishes to ride all the way to the White
House, we are told that we must also blame Obama’s cult of personality
for Trump’s success.

No, Republican Jews were hoping to get into bed with Marco Rubio. Turns
out though, that Senator Rubio still sleeps in a toddler bed. Give him
eight years or so and he may be ready for prime time. In the meantime,
there is no candidate they feel comfortable with (Ted Cruz scares just
about everyone), and in the absence of a candidate, speaking out against
Trump in an unqualified way, is a vote for Hillary.

Second, it’s possible that American Jews no longer see themselves as the
target of these white nationalist groups. Trump has not openly attacked
Jews in the race. In fact, his worst comments were made in front of the
Republican Jewish Coalition, when he said that it was good to be in a
room full of dealmakers and told them he knew they wouldn’t support him
"because I don’t want your money." Many American Jews of all political
denominations see themselves as white and while they may abhor
supremacist groups, they aren’t scared by them, even if a prominent
white nationalist is on the record as saying that while he supports
Trump, he is still bothered by Trump’s Jewish daughter.

Then there is the Ivanka factor. It is hard for many to believe that a
man from the world of New York real estate, a man whose daughter
converted to marry a Jew, a man whose grandchildren are being raised
Jewish and will likely attend Jewish schools, could ever really be bad
for the Jews. (After all, one tabloid showed a picture of Ivanka Trump
and her husband walking down the street carrying flowers that turned out
to be a lulav.) This man may be abhorrent, but how bad could he really
be for us?

Finally, it’s possible that American Jews wonder if they have blown all
their political capitol on the Iran deal. Prominent American Jews and
the entire Jewish Republican establishment screamed themselves hoarse
about the deal. While they distanced themselves from Mike Huckabee’s
comment about President Obama marching Israelis to the door of ovens,
now that there are actual Nazis in American presidential politics, now
that we are talking about David Duke again, now that there are loyalty
pledges and raised arms at rallies, where are all the Nazi analogies,
and why can’t we make them without tempering them? Why aren’t our
organizations doing more, saying more? Do we not have any voice left?

Because even if you don’t believe that Donald Trump is an anti-Semite,
and even if you don’t believe he himself is dangerous for American Jews,
what he has exposed and what he has unleashed, cannot be ignored and
cannot be good.

Donald Trump is not Pat Buchanan. He may go away at some point. After
November, we may never have to hear the words "Donald Trump" and
"president" in the same sentence again. But the forces behind him will
not disappear. They are not going anywhere, and if he loses, or if he is
denied the nomination, they could only get stronger. We may have used up
all our moral equivalence in recent months, but surely all Jewish
Americans, including Republican Jews, should be afraid.

Lea Geller is a writer who lives in New York City her family. She blogs
at www.thisisthecornerwepeein.com

(6) GOP's Jewish donors Sheldon Adelson and Paul Singer plotted against
Trump


http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/28/us/politics/donald-trump-republican-party.html?_r=0

Inside the Republican Party’s Desperate Mission to Stop Donald Trump

By ALEXANDER BURNS, MAGGIE HABERMAN and JONATHAN MARTINFEB. 27, 2016

[...] Late last fall, the strategists Alex Castellanos and Gail Gitcho,
both presidential campaign veterans, reached out to dozens of the
party’s leading donors, including the casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and
the hedge-fund manager Paul Singer, with a plan to create a "super PAC"
that would take down Mr. Trump. In a confidential memo, the strategists
laid out the mission of a group they called "ProtectUS."

"We want voters to imagine Donald Trump in the Big Chair in the Oval
Office, with responsibilities for worldwide confrontation at his
fingertips," they wrote in the previously unreported memo. Mr.
Castellanos even produced ads portraying Mr. Trump as unfit for the
presidency, according to people who saw them and who, along with many of
those interviewed, insisted on anonymity to discuss private conversations.

The two strategists, who declined to comment, proposed to attack Mr.
Trump in New Hampshire over his business failures and past liberal
positions, and emphasized the extreme urgency of their project. A Trump
nomination would not only cause Republicans to lose the presidency, they
wrote, "but we also lose the Senate, competitive gubernatorial elections
and moderate House Republicans."

No major donors committed to the project, and it was abandoned. No other
sustained Stop Trump effort sprang up in its place.

Resistance to Mr. Trump still runs deep. The party’s biggest benefactors
remain totally opposed to him. At a recent presentation hosted by the
billionaires Charles G. and David H. Koch, the country’s most prolific
conservative donors, their political advisers characterized Mr. Trump’s
record as utterly unacceptable, and highlighted his support for
government-funded business subsidies and government-backed health care,
according to people who attended.

But the Kochs, like Mr. Adelson, have shown no appetite to intervene
directly in the primary with decisive force. The American Future Fund, a
conservative group that does not disclose its donors, announced plans on
Friday to run ads blasting Mr. Trump for his role in an educational
company that is alleged to have defrauded students. But there is only
limited time for the commercials to sink in before some of the country’s
biggest states award their delegates in early March.

Instead, Mr. Trump’s challengers are staking their hopes on a set of
guerrilla tactics and long-shot possibilities, racing to line up
mainstream voters and interest groups against his increasingly
formidable campaign. Donors and elected leaders have begun to rouse
themselves for the fight, but perhaps too late.

Two of Mr. Trump’s opponents have openly acknowledged that they may have
to wrest the Republican nomination from him in a deadlocked convention.

Speaking to political donors in Manhattan on Wednesday evening, Mr.
Rubio’s campaign manager, Terry Sullivan, noted that most delegates are
bound to a candidate only on the first ballot. Many of them, moreover,
are likely to be party regulars who may not support Mr. Trump over
multiple rounds of balloting, he added, according to a person present
for Mr. Sullivan’s presentation, which was first reported by CNN.

Advisers to Mr. Kasich, the Ohio governor, have told potential
supporters that his strategy boils down to a convention battle. Judd
Gregg, a former New Hampshire senator who had endorsed Jeb Bush, said
Mr. Kasich’s emissaries had sketched an outcome in which Mr. Kasich
"probably ends up with the second-highest delegate count going into the
convention" and digs in there to compete with Mr. Trump. [...]

The Rubio Hope

There is still hope that Mr. Rubio might be able to unite much of the
party and slow Mr. Trump’s advance in a series of big-state primaries in
March, and a host of top elected officials endorsed him over the last
week. But Mr. Rubio has struggled to sideline Mr. Kasich and Senator Ted
Cruz of Texas, who is running a dogged campaign on the right. He has
also been unable to win over several of his former rivals who might help
consolidate the Republican establishment more squarely behind him. [...]

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