Vice President Joe Biden said Wednesday that he won’t run for president. Former Democratic Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia did the same earlier in the week.
Now if about 10 Republicans could follow suit, we’d really be getting somewhere.
Biden didn’t run because he didn’t see a path to victory. Without naming names, how many Republicans in the second or third tiers of the primary field can honestly say they see one?
If this goes another month, I say bring in Ahnuld, as in Arnold Schwarzenegger from “The Terminator” franchise, who knows how to say, “Get. Out!”
(That could be a fun ad.)
The Democratic primary has never been a puzzle. Even with all her problems, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has always held a prohibitive national lead. The only long-shot question has been whether she’d pull out of the race because of email-gate, but that conversation has mostly come and gone.
On the Republican side, the question has been, which real candidate is going to rise up and take it?
Billionaire businessman Donald Trump and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson have led the field for several weeks, but the assumption among political professionals is that Carson’s support is paper thin and Trump has a ceiling. But Trump’s numbers just ticked upward, again — I believed they wouldn’t — to 32 percent, according to an ABC News-Washington Post poll released Wednesday. That’s got a lot of Republicans antsy.
The first primary is still a long way off — New Hampshire’s is Feb. 9 — but the clock is ticking faster now, it seems. So the whispers that had begun to fade in early September, when Trump’s numbers were dipping, are now being heard again: “This clown can’t actually actually be our nominee, can he?”
There’s no way Trump should be able to win the Republican nomination for president. Poll after poll has shown that he’ll never be able to attain a majority of Republican voters to back him. His negative ratings are simply too high. But with so many candidates still in the race, it’s not a Trump majority that establishment Republicans fear, it’s a Trump plurality, meaning he could capture primary after primary with 25 percent to 30 percent of the vote.
In other words, for Trump to lose, the Republican field must winnow. That can’t happen soon enough as far as I’m concerned.
A lot of politicos are issuing mea culpas for having underestimated Trump. I’m not going to do that, partly out of stubbornness, but mostly because I have faith that Republican voters will be smart enough at the end of the day not to fall for Trump’s shtick. Saying you’re going to “Make America great again” is a fine sentiment, but when pressed, Trump still has no details or breadth of knowledge of how to go about doing that.
As the 1980s hit song went, “All you do is talk, talk.” Take a look online at Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s budget-balancing speech at Nashua Community College in New Hampshire; then watch a Trump rally. The difference is sobering.
The Trump phenomenon remains mildly entertaining, but I can guarantee that he won’t be the nominee of my party.
How can I be so sure?
Because if Trump is standing on the stage of the Republican National Convention as the GOP nominee for president in July, it will no longer be my party. It will be a party that might die from embarrassment.
William F. B. O’Reilly is a Republican consultant.