Guest Editorial:Cruz-Kasich plan could backfire

Dallas Morning News
April 26
Stock image

If it holds, the uneasy truce between Texas’ Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich may — and we emphasize may — succeed in keeping real estate mogul Donald Trump from securing enough delegates to win the GOP nomination outright.

The alliance, in which Cruz and Kasich agreed to cede certain states to one another in order to thwart Trump, appeared in danger of falling apart almost as soon as it was announced. But no matter how long it holds, it represents a cynical gamble.

Rather than unifying a Republican Party in disarray, the Stop Trump gambit could further fracture a deeply divided GOP and harden the anti-establishment fervor that’s fueling the Trump juggernaut.

In short, the shameless political calculus could backfire. It may alienate Trump supporters to the point of no return and fulfill the prophecy of a barbaric, take-no-prisoners GOP convention.

It’s nothing new for campaign strategies to come down to cold political calculations. Still, a public tag-team effort of this nature is certainly an unconventional step.

No, it’s not cheating. Nor does it mean — Trump’s tiresome tirades notwithstanding — that the system is rigged against the GOP front-runner.

Yet it clearly shows how desperate and determined Cruz, Kasich and other party leaders have become to stop Trump in his tracks, regardless of public appearances.

We disagree with Kasich’s assessment that this alliance is “not a big deal.” And Cruz’s insistence that this effort does not subvert the will of the people falls on deaf ears. This pact reduces voters to pliable pawns in a predetermined chess match.

Cruz has said he will sidestep Oregon and New Mexico to focus on Indiana. Kasich has said he will skip campaigning in Indiana to concentrate his efforts in Oregon and New Mexico.

So what are Kasich fans in Indiana supposed to do? “They ought to vote for me,” Kasich said Tuesday, muddying the waters. At the same time, one of his advisers explained how helpful it would be to Kasich were Cruz to win Indiana.

Got all that?

Again, maybe this peculiar strategy will work for Cruz or Kasich or both of them. With neither candidate having a clear path to winning the 1,237 delegates needed to claim the GOP nomination, each is relying on the other to cut Trump off at the pass and trigger an open convention.

Maybe GOP voters play along.

Or maybe they decide that if that’s how the establishment politicians want to play the game, an anti-establishment candidate doesn’t look so bad after all.