— Clayton Cubitt (@claytoncubitt) March 17, 2016
For your reading pleasure, Molly Ball at the Atlantic on “The Final Stage of Republican Grief”:
There are times when you can look at Donald Trump, presidential candidate, and almost see something normal. Or certain Republicans can, anyway. Newt Gingrich—the former speaker of the House, a man who has spent his life seeing things others could not—can.
“Here you have a guy who is talented enough to come from a standing start and dominate every poll, who has won state after state, who dominates the media, who has brought thousands of Democrats and independents into the party,” Gingrich told me, referring to primaries in which non-Republicans are allowed to vote. Under normal circumstances, he said, party leaders would be celebrating the arrival of such a figure.
But Trump is not a normal circumstance. Even as he barrels toward the nomination—winning at least three of the five big states voting on Tuesday, knocking Marco Rubio out of the race, and claiming a large lead with more than half the delegates awarded—his party remains mostly in shock at his rise. Over the past week, as he has refused to discourage the violence erupting at his events, many in his party say they are frightened by the specter of authoritarianism and the possibility of escalating conflict.
But in other precincts, it’s possible to detect a thaw. They couldn’t beat him. And now many Republicans say it may be time to join him, to make the best of the situation, to try to refine and civilize Trump, to nudge his candidacy toward normalcy…
“In the end, whoever the nominee is, the party will, to one degree or another, rally around him,” predicted Ron Kaufman, the longtime lobbyist and Republican National Committee stalwart. Kaufman supported Jeb Bush this year and was a close adviser to Mitt Romney, who has recently come out strongly against Trump and what he represents. But Kaufman saw no need for such hysterics. People walked out of the convention on Ford in ’76 and Reagan in ’80, he said, but they were the exceptions.
Kaufman waved off concerns that Trump’s rhetoric has reached a dangerous and unprecedented level. “Lots of folks say lots of things that probably they don’t mean,” he said. “I’m not in any way, shape or form defending things these candidates have said, including Donald Trump, but in the end, this is about governing.”…
Of course New Gingrich is ready to acknowledge a fellow grifter as his king, as long as he thinks there’s a few bucks to be made from that king. But Ron Kaufman is the epitome of a political coatholder, a lifer whose security lies in enabling the whims of the foremost GOP leading light, however dim and smokey that light might be. If he’s willing to publicly announce a provisional fealty to His Royal Vulgarity, it’s all over but the head-bashing in Cleveland.