It's all eyes on New York where everyone has an opinion on this week's primary, including former world chess champion and big-time Ronald Reagan fan Garry Kasparov. While the Russian-born Kasparov took a nicely placed swipe at Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders ('I'm sorry Bernie fans, but I lived it, and the failures of capitalism are still better than the successes of socialism'), most of his weekend column in The New York Daily News was taken up with shooting down Donald Trump.
Kasparov, a presidential aspirant himself in 2008 — in Russia, that is — first saw Donald Trump in 1988, striding through the Plaza Hotel, wife Ivana on his arm. To Kasparov, then on his first visit to New York, Trump seemed to be capitalism personified. 'Trump owned the Plaza, the Plaza was a symbol of New York, New York was as a symbol of America'. Now, Kasparov thinks his 1988 self was taken in 'by the same con game' Trump is running today: 'Trump sells the myth of American success instead of the real thing'.
What has Kasparov really riled up is Trump comparing himself to Reagan. To many who lived on the other side of the Iron Curtain during the chill of the Cold War, Reagan was a hero and for Kasparov, that impression has withstood the test of time.
To my horror, Reagan himself has become a campaign cliché even as his legacy of optimism and American exceptionalism has been trampled on. Reagan's America was a shining beacon to those of us living in the unfree world. He brought down the Soviet Union by refusing to concede an inch to Gorbachev. Trump compares himself to Reagan while expressing his admiration for Putin and the brutality of China's Communist dictatorship. He would abandon the Middle East and Israel and discard NATO and nuclear non-proliferation, making the world, and America, far less secure. America needs leadership that will restore confidence in its allies and fear in its enemies, not the other way around.
What is now clear is that such commentary has a snowflake's chance in hell of prompting Trump's supporters to change their minds. Most polls have Trump well ahead of Ted Cruz but it was a different set of numbers Cruz supporters were pushing in the last frantic hours before New York polling. On Facebook, the anti-abortion group Proliferocks posted MSNBC polling showing Donald Trump would lose an election against either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders.
The worst-case scenario for the many opposed to Trump on both sides of the political fence would be if he scores more than 50% of the vote in each New York district, a result that would deliver him all of the State's 95 delegates. The bookies put the odds of such a clean sweep at 85%. Ahead of New York, the delegate count stands at Trump 744, Cruz 559 and John Kasich 144. Delegate maths experts (only in America) cited by The Hill believe the race to get the 1237 delegates needed to clinch the nomination will come down to the wire. One-third of all the outstanding delegates will be allocated on the last day of primary voting, June 7. Best guess? 'Trump will finish with a few delegates either above or below that magic number'.
In the increasingly bitter GOP nomination race, conservative commentator Hugh Hewitt has made a point of staying neutral. A recent post, however, warned the Trump camp not to underestimate the forces lining up against their guy.
Trump’s bulldozer approach might work, but the odds against it are rising. Every institutional force in the GOP is now calculating that a Trump nomination will cost the party the Senate majority and maybe the House and not a few state legislatures thrown in, whereas a Cruz-Tom Cotton, Cruz-Nikki Haley, Cruz-Rubio, or Cruz-Carly Fiorina ticket puts new demographics of age and ethnicity into play against the dreadful candidacy of Hillary Clinton.
Underestimating the #NeverTrump movement is a death knell to his candidacy, if not now, then in the fall. Trump really needs to name his secretary of defense and secretary of state soon if only to reassure the millions of GOP voters poised to bolt.
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