Despite all the forces arrayed against Donald J. Trump, the GOP has been gripped by a nearly incapacitating leadership vacuum and a paralytic sense of indecision and despair, as Donald has won smashing-victories in South Carolina and Nevada. Donors have dreaded the consequences of clashing with Trump directly. Elected officials have balked at attacking him out of concern that they might unintentionally fuel his populist-revolt. Republicans have lacked someone from outside the presidential race who could help set the conditions and terms of debate from afar.
The endorsement by Governor Chris Christie, a not unblemished but still highly regarded figure within the party’s elite — a former chairman of the Republican Governors Association — landed Friday with crippling force. It was by far the most important defection to Trump’s insurgency: Mr. Chris Christiemay give cover to other Republicans tempted to join Trump rather than trying to beat him. Not just the ‘Stop Trump’ forces seemed in peril, but also the traditional party establishment itself.
Should Donald clinch the presidential nomination, it would represent a rout of historic proportions for the institutional Republican Party, and could set off an internal-rift unseen in either party for a half-century, since white Southerners abandoned the Democratic Party en masse during the civil-rights movement.
Former Gov. Hon. Michael O. Leavitt (Utah) a top adviser to Mitt Romney‘s 2012 presidential campaign, says the party is effectively unable to come up with a united-front to quash Trump’s campaign. ’There is no mechanism,’ Mr. Leavitt says. ‘There is no smoke-filled room. If there is, I’ve never seen it, nor do I know anyone who has. This is going to play out in the way that it will.’