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Presidential Horse Race 2016: When does opposing Donald Trump become a moral issue?

As we enter political convention month in the 2016 Presidential race, it is evident that the Republican Party and conservatives are as divided as ever over the candidacy of Donald Trump, a rift that certainly threatens to hand Hillary Clinton the election in November unless some sort of consensus is reached soon.

And unfortunately, it looks like the hostility towards Trump is not confined to wishy-washy Republicans in the party establishment, either.

Donald TrumpUtah Senator and conservative stalwart Mike Lee weighed-in on Trump the other night. As reported by #NeverTrumper Erick Erickson at The Resurgent, Lee said on Newsmax TV when asked about why he hasn’t yet endorsed the party nominee, “We can get into the fact that he accused my best friend’s father of conspiring to kill JFK. We can go through the fact that he’s made statements that some have identified correctly as religiously intolerant.

“We can get into the fact that he’s wildly unpopular in my state, in part because my state consists of people who are members of a religious minority church. A people who were ordered exterminated by the governor of Missouri in 1838. And, statements like that make them nervous.”

Not surprisingly, Erickson commended Lee for his “leadership” in bashing Trump and suggested more condemnation is needed from conservatives (as if there isn’t enough of it already). Of course, Erickson has been mum for months when someone like Senator Jeff Sessions or Newt Gingrich says something positive about Trump, so we’ll just assume he only covers one side of the argument.

I like Mike Lee and was surprised the senator would say these types of things about Trump because it shows a remarkable shortsightedness for such a brilliant and decent man. It’s understandable how Lee might want to put some distance between him and Trump to further his reelection bid this year, but to question Trump’s integrity in this manner is puzzling.

First off, if Ted Cruz is Lee’s “best friend,” why did it take him so long to endorse Cruz’s candidacy in the primaries? Cruz drifted for months in the presidential race without a single fellow senator endorsing him, enduring all sorts of damaging attacks from Trump and others that insinuated Ted wasn’t well-liked even by the people who know him best.

The charge against Cruz simply wasn’t fair, but Lee could have dispelled the notion very early on without risking much of anything, much less political capital. As it is, Lee’s endorsement didn’t come until March 10, well after Trump had already crushed the field on Super Tuesday (March 1).

Lee’s attack on Trump’s relationship with Mormons is also rather strange. While any disinterested observer would agree Trump has been somewhat less than a model Christian, isn’t it a bit hypocritical to bring up Trump’s “religious intolerance” when Mitt Romney endured so much flak in 2008 and 2012 over his Mormon faith?

Romney even had to deliver a special speech explaining his faith in the 2008 campaign.

It indicates to me that Lee, like so many others, is using a strictly visceral response to Trump in order to assess this year’s election. Something like, “He offends me personally so I can’t in good conscience support him.”

Fair enough, but once again, what are the alternatives?

I hold Mike Lee in just as high esteem as Ted Cruz when it comes to advancing the cause of liberty, but I can only hope Mike will come to his senses and realize it’s to no one’s benefit to clear a path for Hillary Clinton’s victory in this way.

If you don’t believe it, I would suggest you read W. James Antle III’s (of the Washington Examiner) well researched and presented story (titled, “Why the Supreme Court's ruling could be worse for pro-lifers than you think”) on the potential damage to the pro-life cause going forward if Clinton is allowed to appoint not only Justice Antonin Scalia’s successor, but other liberal judges who will cement Roe v. Wade’s findings into American law for another fifty years.

To Senator Lee and all #NeverTrumpers, especially Erick Erickson, who many times over the years has described the pro-life cause as the most important political and moral issue in America, I would ask: Are you really willing to effectively extinguish the lives of millions of unborn Americans because your pride prevents you from backing a man like Donald Trump?

All the work the pro-life cause has put in since January, 1973 won’t matter a bit if we don’t have the votes on the Supreme Court to inject some sense into the political leadership of the country. Are we going to let it all go up in flames because of a disagreement over pride?

I would pose the same question to Ted Cruz as well. Cruz’s silence on the Trump matter is as strange as any other’s and frankly, the longer it goes on, the more it calls into question his future viability as a presidential candidate. If Cruz can’t follow the example of Ronald Reagan in 1976 (who wasn’t exactly enthusiastic about Gerald Ford but didn’t actively oppose Ford’s candidacy), it says something about his political judgement.

Cruz repeatedly said on the stump that we must not allow Hillary Clinton to become president and it was the single most important issue in the campaign. It’s time Ted lived up to some of his own campaign promises and worked tirelessly to make sure that doesn’t happen.

The American republic is greater than any single man, woman, party or cause. For those on the fence, you’re either going to have to choose a side or be blamed for what will inevitably happen the moment we utter the words “Madame President” for the first time.

Mitt Romney says his family wanted him to run again, but he couldn’t put them through it

Since we’re already on the subject of Mitt Romney, the failed 2012 Republican establishment presidential candidate and leading #NeverTrumper is in the news again, this time revealing publicly for the first time (this month at least) that his family really, really, really wanted him to run this year.

Cristiano Lima of Politico reports Romney told CBS’ John Dickerson on Wednesday, “My wife and kids wanted me to run again this time, interestingly enough. I got an email from one of my sons yesterday that said, ‘You’ve got to get in, dad. You’ve got to get in.’”

Lima adds, “The former Massachusetts governor and 2012 Republican Party nominee said the push came ‘late in the process’ because his family members were ‘concerned about the direction of the nominating process in our party.’”

Mitt also reiterated he wasn’t going to join the 2016 race, citing the strain it would put on his family.

It now looks like the Republican status quo’s best hope has been extinguished once again. Where they are concerned, what I’m wondering is, where is the popular urgency for Romney to re-enter the race? Where is the “Draft Mitt” website with millions of signees? Where is the dump-Trump grassroots organization? Where can I find the petition drives?

All of these things are probably located in the same fantasy alternative universe as the #NeverTrump elites like George Will reside in. I bet it still has a DC area zip code, too.

As someone who spent half a year in 2012 trying to come up with every reason possible under the sun to advocate for Romney’s election, I find Mitt’s continued waffling on this subject to be extraordinary – and to use his family once again as an excuse not to run is kind of pathetic.

But Romney did indicate later in the same interview that he wouldn’t want to run simply as a spoiler and he didn’t see a path to victory as an independent candidate. Mitt stopped well short of articulating any kind of support for Trump but did say he would continue to work on behalf of candidates who supported “his kind of conservatism”.

I’m assuming that means Big Government “conservatism,” the kind advanced by Karl Rove and the Bush clan. I think this issue was already settled…twice (in 2008 and 2012).

Romney himself used the “stop Hillary” argument extensively in 2007 and 2008 as a reason he needed to be nominated, because he could win against her. Like with Ted Cruz, if Romney is on the level about the dire need to keep Hillary out of the White House now, he needs to make his choice – and stop undermining the effort to beat her.

Some members of BushWorld’s embrace of Hillary suggests the end of #NeverTrump is near

One of the more shameful elements of #NeverTrump has been the revelation in recent weeks that several prominent former Bush administration officials have not only openly declared opposition to Donald Trump’s candidacy, they’re saying they will actually support Hillary in November.

Scott Wong of The Hill reports, “Hank Paulson. Richard Armitage. Brent Scowcroft.  They represent the cadre of Bush World alums who have openly endorsed Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump for president and say they will be choosing ‘country over party’ this fall.

“And they’re not alone.

“A handful of other top political appointees and aides from the George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush administrations are expected to buck their party and back Clinton in the coming months amid growing anxiety about what Trump might mean for fiscal policy and national security if he wins the White House.”

In other words, the who’s who of the dying Republican establishment is throwing in with their former arch enemies, the Clintons.

If that isn’t the supreme example of going over to the Dark Side, I don’t know what would be. These guys are Judas with a capital “J” considering many conservatives held their nose to vote for the neoconservative Big Government Bush clan during their years in the sun, including backing the Iraq invasion when common sense indicated more evidence of a direct threat to the United States was needed.

Wong’s article went on to speculate whether one of the two former Bush presidents would do the same – meaning endorse Hillary – but I have a hard time believing something that apocalyptic is about to happen. For a family literally obsessed with legacy, that’s a no-no you just don’t risk.

But the former Bushies backing Hillary reveals a lot more about the chummy nature of Washington than it does about antipathy to Trump. Trump himself has at times been part of the cozy inner circle of Washington politicos, so it must be more than that now.

Because Trump threatens to enter the Capitol and overturn the tables of the Washington money changers, so to speak, he’s got to be regarded as more dangerous to the GOP establishment’s power base than even Hillary does.

Hillary will just perpetuate the status quo. That’s what many of the Bushies and the rest of the GOP establishment want. Meanwhile, #NeverTrump is readying for their last stand, so the final, desperate act of the defeated elites is to not only surrender, but change sides.

It really has come to this, folks.

Eric Trump says his dad is really just all about America

Finally this week, much has been written over the past year about Donald Trump’s message as being “populist” or “nationalist” or several other forms of “-ist” (you fill in the first part).

Yesterday Trump’s son Eric helped clarify what his dad is really all about.

Louis Nelson of Politico reports, “Thursday afternoon on Fox News’ ‘The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson,’ Eric Trump disputed the notion that his father’s campaign was striking a populist tone at all. Instead, the candidate’s son said the campaign is focused on improving America’s economic and national security by toughening immigration standards.

“’I mean, when does this end? It's not a populist message. It's a pro-American message. It's a all-American message. It's let’s get America back to work, let's keep America safe,’ Eric Trump said. ‘You know, and that’s really my father’s platform. It’s actually very simple. I mean, this country has given him and our family everything. And I say that all the time, it’s given us everything. He wants to bring back prosperity to this country. It’s just that simple.’”

No doubt Eric knows his father a lot better than any of us, as I’m not sure I’ve heard a better summation of Trump’s platform.

As a candidate, Trump isn’t nearly as well versed on the minute details of policy, but he has been able to articulate his “America First” theme very well.

For a lot of people the concept sounds too basic to comprehend. And they don’t trust The Donald to carry through with his promises because he’s rich, famous, brash and abrasive at times and has sinned aplenty in the past.

But if Trump’s naysayers are going to keep up with this line of attack, perhaps they’d better take a look at Hillary Clinton and discover whether she’d be able to express a love for America in such a way without mentioning all the special interests she wants to favor… “Women’s rights, African-American rights, Latino rights, union rights, LGBT rights, etc…”

Are we all one country or a conglomeration of cliques all with our own special requirements? Are we the “melting pot” or a collection of ingredients separated neatly “on the side”?

Are we one country and one people or a bunch of ethnic and social groups haphazardly thrown together in one common geographic location? Will America as we know it still exist a year from now?

A sobering thought indeed as we move to celebrate Independence Day.

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