Well, its official . . . Donald Trump is the Republican nominee for President. By dominating Indiana on Tuesday, he gave both Ted Cruz and John Kasich no other choice other than to bow out and bring the primary process to an end. While selfishly I had hoped for a Cruz victory, ensuring California would remain in play like the Bernie Sanders win did for the Democrats, it was time to stop the infighting and begin to heal the divisions that the last year has brought on the party.
I am finding it difficult to put his victory into perspective or historical terms. If you are a soccer fan, Leicester City just won the English Premiere League after starting the season a 5,000 – 1 underdog. Buster Douglas was a 44-1 dog when he knocked out Mike Tyson, and the 1980 Miracle on Ice also comes to mind. But you can argue that Trump’s victory is even more unlikely than all three examples combined and let’s be honest, there is no way Donald Trump himself entered the race believing he would be the nominee.
But here we are and what does the Trump victory mean? Most importantly the spectacle of a “fractured” or “brokered” convention is no longer an option. While that may have been great for ratings, it would have sealed the defeat for whoever came out as the nominee. If the California convention is any indication, Cleveland is going to be chaotic enough, and Republicans do not need to add any more dysfunction inside than what will occur naturally. I certainly hope to be wrong, but I can’t imagine many of Trump’s rivals will attend, much less participate in the convention. After his attacks on John McCain, the Bush family, Marco Rubio, Mitt Romney, etc. he has a large number of olive branches to extend, and I hope he does. Say what you will about the process, but Republicans put forth an exceptionally strong and talented group of candidates, most of whom would be excellent Cabinet members, and Trump would be wise to seek their support and counsel.
Who will be the Vice President? I always felt (and still do) that Governor Kasich is the perfect VP – Republicans need Ohio, and he has never lost in his home state, he’s served in both the executive and legislative branch with experience in the private sector and most importantly is prepared to be President. But that may not happen. It seems that Hillary Clinton will nominate Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown as her running mate, and that could force Trump to look in another direction.
But the most important question. Can he win? If you listen to the talking heads, not only will Trump lose but he will take all the down ticket Republicans with him. Of course, these are all the same “experts” that predicted his demise several times throughout the campaign, and we saw how that turned out. The fact is Trump has received the highest number of Republican votes ever in the primary season and has also pulled independents to his campaign at a rate no other Republican has done before.
But Republicans and some Independents won’t be enough. Trump needs to “Feel the Bern” by capitalizing on the strong dissatisfaction with Hillary and bring those voters into his camp. It will take a unique coalition, and early polls have him significantly behind, but as we have seen Trump continues to defy all the historical norms.
But with all these questions, one thing is for certain: The first Trump/Clinton debate will have more viewers than the Super Bowl. Can’t Wait!