John Feehery: Speaking Engagements

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Can’t “Contain” Trump If You Don’t Try

Posted on July 15, 2016
By Michael Vadon - https://www.flickr.com/photos/80038275@N00/20724666936/, CC BY-SA 2.0, $3

By Michael Vadon - https://www.flickr.com/photos/80038275@N00/20724666936/, CC BY-SA 2.0, $3



(Published on WSJ)

Many establishment Republicans are nervous that Mike Pence, Chris Christie, and Newt Gingrich are finalists in Donald Trump’s newest incarnation of “Celebrity Apprentice.”

They shouldn’t blame Donald Trump for that.

They should blame themselves.

Many of these same Republicans have attacked the Trump campaign for not being broad enough, deep enough, strong enough or experienced enough.

But if these establishment figures cared that much about the Trump campaign, they would volunteer their time and go work for it.

Some of these same Republicans are scoffing at the convention that is getting ready to launch next week.

No, it won’t be the traditional Republican National Convention. There won’t be a Bush to be found. Nor a Romney. Nor John McCain.

Don’t blame Donald Trump for that. Blame the Bushes and the Romneys. (I give Sen. McCain a pass because he has a tough reelection campaign in Arizona.)

I have long advocated a political containment strategy that could help to steer the Republican presidential nominee to a better, more defensible place on policy issues and to help to unify the party.

The elements of an effective Trump containment strategy would include a good vice presidential pick, a smart chief of staff, good cabinet officials, and a smart staff to round this out.

That strategy can work only if those establishment Republicans who have experience and are politically ambitious agree to work with Mr. Trump.

Instead, the old guard has turned their collective backs on the presumptive Republican nominee, the same candidate who has garnered the most primary votes in GOP history.

They have proffered weak strategies to try to derail his nomination without putting forward a credible candidate who could pass muster with the bulk of the party.

They have echoed Democratic attacks on our nominee, calling him racist and anti-Semitic without direct evidence.

They have refused to serve as his vice presidential and, in some cases, have tried to intimidate people from working on his campaign.

Some have wasted countless dollars on a #NeverTrump strategy that is going nowhere.

They have shown themselves to be completely out of step with the very real concerns of the average Republican voter and now they want to pout about Donald Trump and the state of the party

First, those people who don’t vote don’t really have the right to complain about the state of our democracy.

And to my Republican friends who complain about the Trump campaign, about the convention, or about Mr. Trump’s vice presidential pick, I would say: If you don’t like where the party is going, step up and participate.

Donald Trump might well win this election.

Hillary Clinton represents the status quo in what is undoubtedly an election cycle about change, and the scandal over her use of private email as secretary of state and other baggage might make her the worst political candidate of a major party since Michael Dukakis.

If Donald Trump wins, those who continue the #NeverTrump campaign are likely to be marginalized for the duration of his administration.

And if he loses, Republicans won’t have to look far to find fault for the defeat. It will rest with the so-called GOP elite who have taken their footballs and gone home.

Donald Trump wasn’t my first choice, or my second choice, or my 15th choice to be the GOP nominee. But the Republican primary voter has spoken. Presidential elections are also bigger than one man.