TRUMP MAKES IT HARD FOR REPUBLICANS TO LIE DOWN
If things keep going as they are, Donald Trump will not be able to win the Republican nomination outright.
But of course, things will not keep going as they are. Things will either get much better or much worse for Trump in the next five weeks.
Ask Bernie Sanders what happens to movements that do not win. The beating he took Tuesday at the hands of presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton shows exactly what happens: movements turn into messages. After showing surprise snap in Michigan last week, Sanders got soaked in Ohio, Florida and North Carolina. He fought Clinton to a tie in Illinois and Missouri, but this thing is over.
Can the same be said of the effort to deny Trump the Republican nomination? Quite possibly.
After his loss in winner-take-all Ohio, Trump needs about 60 percent of all the remaining delegates to reach the 1,237-delegate threshold and win outright. Even after Tuesday’s romp in Florida and wins in North Carolina, Illinois and, it would seem, Missouri, Trump has won 46 percent of the delegates so far.
Trump is in nowhere near as good a position as the Democratic frontrunner, but Trump is closing in on his target. And like past GOP frontrunners, he can count on large-delegate, blue states in the closing weeks to help deliver a win.
The two remaining Republican contenders, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz seem to have very different ideas about the best way to stop Trump. It’s not surprising.
Kasich is mathematically eliminated from contention for an outright victory while Cruz still holds the reediest of chances to get over the top. There is no doubt that the anti-Trump sentiment within the Republican Party, among both moderates and conservatives, is intense. The large numbers of voters Tuesday who said they would consider voting for a third party rather than a Trump or Clinton is evidence enough of that.
But practically speaking, unless that energy is directed into something productive it will dissipate. Cruz has steadily resisted the idea of “strategic voting” and has continued to win a war of attrition against his rivals, other than Trump -- most recently Florida Sen. Marco Rubio -- but Kasich will not be knocked out.
Cruz would instead have to come to an accommodation with Kasich about where they will stand clear of one another’s paths. More likely, Cruz and Kasich will do their own thing and pursue their own agendas.
But the strategy laid out by 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney could still work to deny Trump an outright win and take Trump to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland without a win sewn up.
Trump has a warning, however, for anyone denying him the nomination if he is ahead in delegates.
“I think you’d have riots,” Trump told CNN, “If you disenfranchise those people, and you say, ‘I’m sorry, you’re 100 votes short’… I think you’d have problems like you’ve never seen before. I think bad things would happen.”
Given the violence we’ve already seen at Trump events, it’s a credible threat for the frontrunner to make. But it’s also exactly the wrong thing for a frontrunner to say. Democrats are falling in line behind Clinton because she is dialing back attacks and bucking up Sanders backers. Trump is warning that his supporters will riot in the streets.
The competing impulses among Republicans seem to be exhausted acquiescence and a terrified fight-or-flight response.
Republicans would obviously love to lay down and stop the fratricidal fighting that may well doom their party and alienate Trump’s populist legions for a lifetime, but when Trump does things like threatening violence, those same Republicans get a jolt of fear.
Any idea that Trump will be housebroken or mainstreamed into the Republican Party is wishful thinking. Trump sees the GOP the way he does its members who have already surrendered to him like New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Ben Carson. Trump expects Republicans to get in line with him, not him to get in line with them.
If Trump were to just mellow out for a couple of weeks, the GOP would likely lose its will to resist. But as his comments today show, he’s not going to make it easy for them.
[GOP delegate count: Trump 661; Cruz 406; Kasich 142 (1,237 needed to win)]
WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE…
Food nurtures both our bodies and our minds, but some great minds of history had a particularly quirky relationship with food. NPR has the story: “Thomas Edison used soup as an interviewing tool. He had prospective job applicants taste while he observed them carefully. Those who seasoned the soup — with pepper, for instance — before tasting it were rejected outright. They had too many assumptions…The Greek mathematician Pythagoras hated beans. He supposedly forbade his followers from eating them, or even touching them. His dislike of legumes may have led to his death. According to legend, when attackers ambushed him, he refused to escape by running through a bean field.”
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Real Clear Politics Averages
National GOP nomination: Trump 36 percent; Cruz 21.8 percent; Kasich 12 percent
National Dem nomination: Clinton 51 percent; Sanders 39.6 percent
General Election: Clinton vs. Trump: Clinton +6.3 points
Generic Congressional Vote: Democrats +1
HILLARY WINS THE NIGHT
WSJ: “Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton won critical presidential primaries in the industrial Midwest and completed her sweep of the South on Tuesday, as she took full command of a contest that has been far more competitive than expected at the start. Rival Bernie Sanders was still hoping to win in Missouri, where the result was too close to call. But even a Missouri win for Mr. Sanders seemed nowhere near enough to change the dynamic of the race. Mrs. Clinton won in Ohio, Illinois, Florida and North Carolina, and blunted Mr. Sanders’s momentum from a win last week in Michigan. She widened her already formidable delegate lead and made it improbable he can catch up.”
Why Hillary had a good night - Vox’s Ezra Klein explains why Hillary had a good night, not just because of her victories, but because of Marco Rubio’s loss.
Bernie says he’ll see you at the convention - The Hill: “Bernie Sanders early Wednesday insisted that he will continue to campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination until the party’s convention in July despite narrowed prospects. ‘I congratulate Secretary Clinton on her victories on Tuesday. I also want to thank the millions of voters across the nation who supported our campaign and elected delegates who will take us all the way to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia,’ Sanders said in a statement.”
[Dem delegate count: Clinton 1599; Sanders 844 (2,383 needed to win)]
LET RAMBO RIDE
AP: “A Florida woman is fighting to keep her 6-foot-long pet alligator in her home. The 125-pound reptile named Rambo wears clothes, rides on the back of a motorcycle and has a bedroom in Mary Thorn’s home in Lakeland. Thorn has had a license for the alligator for 11 years, but it recently grew to 6 feet. Wildlife officials say that size alligator must have 2.5 acres of land. Thorn tells the Orlando Sentinel that even if she had land available, Rambo can’t be left outdoors because of sensitivity to sunlight…Florida wildlife commission spokesman Gary Morse says Thorn’s case is under investigation.”
Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News. Want FOX News First in your inbox every day? Sign up here.
Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as politics editor based in Washington, D.C. Additionally, he authors the daily Fox News Halftime Report political news note and co-hosts the hit podcast, Perino & Stirewalt: I'll Tell You What. He also is the host of Power Play, a feature video series on FoxNews.com. Stirewalt makes frequent appearances on network programs, including America’s Newsroom, Special Report with Bret Baier and Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace. He also provides expert political analysis for FNC’s coverage of state, congressional and presidential elections.