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Cruz and Rubio Still Battling – But Could They Cooperate?

Although today’s news seems to be mainly about Donald Trump and Mitt Romney (who?) dissing each other, there are still other players in the presidential race.

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We reported that Ben Carson was not going to be in tonight’s debate, and now, the other shoe has fallen, and he says he will speak tomorrow about getting out altogether. That’s what Cruz has been asking for—to get everyone else out, so it will be a one-on-one race between Trump and Cruz.

As we’ve also said elsewhere, that would defeat the “divide-and-conquer” approach, to have each candidate get as many delegates as possible, so that there would have to be an “open” or “brokered” convention. If no one wins on the first ballot, anything could happen.

However, on Super Tuesday night, Cruz said that “anyone who hasn’t won a state” should get out. He obviously didn’t know that Rubio would win Minnesota. It was meant as code to Rubio.

The Daily Intelligencer is reporting that Cruz is now asking, point-blank, that Rubio get out.

On Wednesday night, Cruz tried a new strategy to convince Rubio to drop out, revealing that he definitely would have quit if he hadn’t won in Texas. “Listen, everyone recognizes Donald Trump is a unique phenomenon. And we were encouraged by internal numbers, but you know, I asked the team what do we do if we lose Texas?” Cruz told reporters in Kansas. “And we had reached the conclusion, if we had lost Texas, that would’ve been the end of the road.”

Of course, that highlights another Cruz technique—coulda, shoulda, woulda. AFTER he won Texas, he claims that he would have gotten out of the race if he had lost Texas. Yeah. We’re sure.

But despite the rancor, the National Review, which gave a whole issue to trashing Trump, now thinks it’s time to add Cruz and Rubio together, to see if they can build a big enough straw man to beat The Donald:

Like many others, I have been deeply disturbed by the rise of Donald Trump to become the front-runner for the GOP nomination. As I explained in USAToday, I view him as a threat to the very idea of constitutionally limited government. Because of this, I propose the formation of a new American Constitution party to serve as a lifeboat in which Americans — conservatives, constitutionalists, and others who cannot support the Democratic nominee — can take refuge. Such a party would either win outright, win in the House of Representatives after no candidate secures an electoral majority, or lose but deny Trump the chance to remake the Republican party in his own image. Call this Plan B.

In the wake of Tuesday’s primary results, however, another and easier path to defeating Trump has arisen; it can be Plan A. It basically relies on the patriotism, good sense, and rational self-interest of two men: Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. The plan is simple: Each candidate publicly pledges to support for president whichever of them has the most delegates to the Republican convention. In return, the winner will make the other one his running mate. . .

The beauty of this arrangement is that the primary voters would be the ones to decide which candidate will be at the top of the ticket. And voters could freely vote for their favorite with much less concern that failing to rally around the other would be helping Trump. Let Ted compete with Trump in the states with electorates like Texas, Iowa, Oklahoma, and Alaska. Let Marco compete with Trump in states with electorates like Florida and Minnesota. In short, let Ted be Ted. Let Marco be Marco. Let the most popular Republican win. And let Trump be defeated. Deal?

I think this is unlikely. When huge egos are involved, compromise is difficult. The party was split in 1976. President Ford offered a “co-presidency” with Ronald Reagan, offering him equal say in governing, but it fell apart, since each man wanted to be the top of the ticket. And we ended up with President Carter.

However, Reagan won in 1980, and that’s why a Cruz-Rubio or Rubio-Cruz ticket is so unlikely. Both men think they’ll come back next time, and win all the marbles, by themselves.

Goethe Behr :Goethe Behr is a Contributing Editor and Moderator at Election Central. He started out posting during the 2008 election, became more active during 2012, and very active in 2016. He has been a political junkie since the 1950s and enjoys adding a historical perspective.

View Comments (9)

  • Show us.... Cut the crap....
    Stop the badgering and bickering.... The Donald has spoken words the American people want too hear. So, buckle down and show us how his promises will fail and tell me how your plan will be the best. The arguments you do in the debates only show you can't prove us something better then what he preposes or worse you can't even prove him wrong... I am still undecided, but I hear Don.... I don't hear you....
    Spitting at each other is child's play!!! Get the facts, prove the facts, we will listen.

  • National Review's suggestion, that both Rubio and Cruz remain in the race until the end, with the lesser-delegate-winning candidate supporting the other at the convention, might work if the all of the Republican primaries awarded delegates proportionally. But they don't. Starting 3/15, there are many large winner-take-all primaries like FL, MO, OH, then AZ, WI, IN, and the big finale of CA. Trump will take several of those in a four-man race with Cruz, Rubio and Kasich. Even if Kasich loses OH to Trump and drops out, it's hard to see how Trump doesn't continue to win enough of the winner-take-all states plus scoop up enough delegates from the remaining proportional primaries (like NY, CT, etc.) to not end up winning the nomination outright late this spring.

    But they're right that Cruz and Rubio must team up -- it's the only way to keep Trump from winning the nomination. Between the two, Cruz is clearly a more viable candidate right now. My hope is that Cruz pulls out a win in one or two of the closed caucuses this Sat. -- most likely Kansas or Kentucky (a Rand Paul endorsement there would be great) -- and then Cruz wins ID on Tues. night while also placing ahead of Rubio in both MI and MS. If the polls still aren't showing Rubio at that point in the lead in FL (and they won't), I think Rubio will be frozen out by the establishment and pressured to accept a VP slot on a Cruz ticket. Perhaps a combined Cruz/Rubio team -- los hermanos Cubanos! -- could pull out wins in FL as well as MO on 3/15. That's honestly the most credible "stop Trump" scenario left at this point. It's up to you, Marco. What's it gonna be?

  • DEBATE. Only debate will be between Fox News moderators(lol) Cruz and Rubio on who's turn it is to attack Trump.

  • Under the current status of #StopTrump intrigue calling for abandonment of any pretense the remainder of the campaign to elect a Republican candidate for President will be honest, fair and lawful begins tonight with Fox News joining the Establishment core to attack Trump.

    Shouldn't these actions of the Republican Party release Trump from any commitment too NOT to run as a third party candidate?

    Any more evidence needed to demonstrate the Republican Party is incapable of governance IN A DEMOCRACY?

    • Um, I guess I get your beef with the Megan vs. Trump thing at the debates but, honestly, given the huge amount of free air time that Fox News has consistently given Trump, along with fawning treatment from the likes of Hannity and O'Reilly, exactly how are you mad at Fox News? (And if you think they've been too nice to Rubio lately, well, that's apparently over now as Roger Ailes reportedly said that they "couldn't do the Rubio thing" any more.) As for myself, I've never really liked Fox News and this campaign cycle has given me no reason to feel otherwise...

      • They can't do the Rubio thing anymore because the RNC wizard behind the curtain told them to start propping up Romney again. For many how we've heard from GW Bush, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Pat Buchanan, et al. but no one even remember Romney until the RNC wanted to dethrone Trump. Now they think they'll feed us that load of dung again. Nope!

        • Not really. The airtime is not "free."

          Fox gets paid, handsomely, for the ratings benefit they get from Trump.

          You can be sure, if Trump didn't bring them big numbers, they'd never invite him back.

  • Cruz's comment was probably also referring to Kasich and Carson, not just Rubio.
    I hope Cruz takes Ohio so Kasich will pack his bags and go home.

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