In the 2012 presidential campaign, Mitt Romney and his campaign team realized how politically controversial Donald Trump was. After all, Trump’s most notable contribution to the political discourse in the Obama era was pushing a ridiculous, racially charged conspiracy theory about the president’s birth place.
But Romney and his staffers nevertheless embraced Trump, hosting a high-profile event to accept his endorsement, and even using Trump’s recorded messages in campaign robocalls.
Three years later, the Boston Globe reports that Team Romney, filled with Republican aides who’ve gone in different directions, is “curiously aligned once again in common cause, a stem-to-stern effort that has united old comrades even as they nominally play for different teams: stopping Donald Trump.”
“We are united,” said one former Romney aide now working for another campaign, which he said would not permit him to speak for attribution.“It’s a common goal and not just for Romney people, but for anyone invested in Republicanism, conservatism, and anyone who gives a flying [expletive] about what we’re trying to do here. Even if you’re not getting paid, this isn’t good for anybody,” he said.
And how, exactly, do disparate members of Team Romney intend to reach their “common goal”? They didn’t say.
And that’s the problem. The Club for Growth is also reportedly “reaching out to its network of donors … to help fund an anti-Trump ad blitz.” What will the Club for Growth’s message be? We don’t know; it didn’t say.
Jeb Bush is increasingly invested in taking Trump down. Bobby Jindal, Rick Perry, Rand Paul, and others have, at different times, all focused on the same goal.
Much of this is entirely predictable: one candidate leads in every poll, which necessarily puts a target on his or her back. But what’s striking about this year is that Trump is an unconventional candidate, which means conventional tactics aren’t likely to be effective.
Last week, for example, the Bush campaign released this video, going after the GOP frontrunner, reminding voters Trump (a) is from New York; and (b) used to say positive things about Democrats.
It received plenty of attention and quite a few views on YouTube, but it didn’t move the needle. Trump fans already know he’s a New Yorker who used to be a whole lot less conservative than he is now, and they don’t seem to care.
Republican insiders and their allies have come to see Trump as an existential threat to GOP politics, but they simply have no idea how to derail him.
And who knows, maybe that won’t matter. Trump’s backers may get bored and move on to some other fad. Trump may someday soon go too far and start alienating his supporters. There’s plenty of time on the clock.
But for all the organized efforts to tear down the Republican frontrunner, I haven’t a heard a word from party officials or insiders about how they intend to pop the Trump balloon.