The GOP — May it rest in presidential peace

From the pages of In Business magazine.

We’ve had a very momentary glimpse of optimism into what could be the future of the Republican Party when South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley endorsed presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Marco Rubio. What a wonderful presidential ticket, I thought, before the dream was shattered by the nightmare of Donald Trump’s convincing victory in South Carolina.

That followed the Ugly American’s equally convincing win in New Hampshire and presaged his continuing momentum in March, so unless someone more electable can turn the tide, Trump is the likely Republican Party nominee. Given Trump’s ability to insult or frighten large swaths of the electorate, he’s the perfect pilot for the GOP’s unfolding suicide mission.

For those who think Trump’s promise to deport 12 million undocumented workers is somehow a winning political issue, consider this: With the help of his self-deportation policy, Mitt Romney won just 17% of the non-white vote in 2012 against President Obama, and to win with that percentage among nonwhites he would have had to garner an unheard of 65% of the white vote. Good luck with that.

The Donald believes he can bring a different set of dynamics and voters to the polls, and perhaps lure a good chunk of so-called “Reagan Democrats” away from the Democratic Party nominee. Those would be working-class, private-sector union households that would benefit from the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, which he supports but Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders oppose. Trump might peel some away but he’ll also lose Repubicans appalled at his hijacking of their party.

Meanwhile Clinton, the likely Democratic nominee, found a brilliant way to connect with people in a television ad that aired before her victory in the Nevada primary. It featured her offering reassurance to a young Latina who is afraid that Trump will deport her family. I’m not counted among Clinton’s fans but that’s what you call framing an argument in a way that speaks to our better angels.

The fallout from the FBI investigations into Clinton’s homebrew email server and the Clinton Foundation’s fundraising practices could damage her prospects, but I’ve been watching the Clintons for 25 years and no matter what calamity befalls them, they don’t quit. You have to defeat them at the ballot box, and while Mr. Trump has the sand to fight them blow for blow, he’s the Republican equivalent of a Kamikaze pilot.

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