U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-FL, appears on "The Five" television program, on Fox News Channel, in New York, Monday, March 30, 2015. Closing in on an expected announcement that he will run for president, Sen. Marco Rubio said Monday that he is planning a political event in two weeks in Miami to announce his 2016 plans. The first-term Republican from Florida, appearing on Fox News, did not explicitly say he is running for the White House, instead telling would-be supporters to go to his website and reserve tickets for the rally. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Washington Republicans’ Suicide Strategy

Washington’s Republican leaders have hit on a novel strategy. They will side with Donald Trump against Ted Cruz and then pivot one of three ways.

First, they will stand with Trump and hope he devours them last. Trump is surrounded by a pitchfork carrying mob intent on destroying Washington as we know it. Hoping Trump does not devour them is foolhardy.

Second, they will carry Trump past Cruz then flip to Hillary in the general election. Their calculation is that they will at least be able to keep power within the Republican Party even if Hillary is President.

Third, they will gamble that Trump can be beaten after he beats Cruz in Iowa — no sure thing in and of itself. For months they’ve been peddling stories that the calendar supports the moderate overall. Such theory ignores voter psychology and the desire to back a winner. If Trump or Cruz build momentum, the more moderate divided field is toast. Have they not seen California’s polling or Nevada?

Most Republicans who hate Trump and Cruz are in the third camp. They really think they can rally after Iowa. They are, however, committing suicide.

Have they seen the polling in New Hampshire?

Right now, Trump, Kasich, and Cruz are at the top with Rubio in fourth, Bush in fifth, and Christie in sixth.

If Kasich comes in second in New Hampshire, as the race shifts south Kasich is going to have to answer for expanding Obamacare in Ohio, growing government, and a host of liberal policies and statements including telling conservatives they need to get over gay marriage and abortion.

That just keeps the fight alive between the more establishment oriented candidates.

The logical choice for the establishment is to start rallying now to Rubio as members of Congress hell bent on surviving are beginning to do. Rubio is youthful, polls very well against the Democrats, is the guy the Democrats fear most, and has the potential to bring new voters in to the race.

Sure, Rubio is not going to be able to make peace with voters opposed to amnesty. They do not trust him. But both McCain and Romney were able to get the nomination despite being to the left of Rubio on immigration. The voters opposed to amnesty do not have to make peace with Rubio — the Establishment just has to settle for him.

The most amazing thing about this election is that the Republican Establishment is unwilling and unable to do the things necessary for its own survival. A Kasich will alienate social conservatives and fiscal conservatives. A Bush will alienate much of the base over legacy concerns. A Christie will alienate gun voters and social conservatives. Rubio alienates fewer voters than the others, but the Establishment just does not seem to get it.

This is like watching a slow walk to suicide. As someone who often cheers on the conservative outsiders, I am somewhat relishing watching the Establishment march off the cliff. But I am also baffled. The establishment of the Republican Party has prided itself on beating conservatives, often by encouraging the conservative field to divide itself while the leadership of the party rallies around just one candidate.

This time, the outsiders are beating the insiders at their own game and as an interested observer, it is kinda glorious to watch the confusion and chaos while seeing the obvious, logical answer none of the guys in D.C. can see or, more likely, refuse to see.

I would gladly back any of the Republican candidates, from Trump to Christie, but I am also a real minority on that issue. These Republicans in Washington are so used to thinking they have it in the bag, they just might not know the warning signs to realize they don’t this time.

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Erick Erickson

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