Mark Leibovich writes: At this point in the pre-general-election calendar four and eight years ago, Romney and John McCain had built massive campaign operations and fund-raising networks that were orders of magnitude larger than Trump’s. They had accumulated armies of elected officials promoting them and were diligently making peace with vanquished opponents and paying courtesy calls to party dignitaries and congressional leaders in the name of “unity.” The period between the end of the primaries and the start of the conventions is typically one of consolidation, good-will harvesting and turning full attention to the general-election opponent — all of which Trump has succeeded in achieving the 180-degree opposite of.
Trump would of course be the first to point out that both McCain and Romney lost and that he has been doubted at every step of his campaign. But the degree to which he seems unconcerned with his pariah status among name Republicans remains a key feature of his pursuit. To a comical extent, top Republicans willed themselves invisible when I reached out to them for this article, fearing, not incorrectly, that the conversation would turn to Trump. This included some of the most typically quotable Republicans, including former Trump challengers like Graham (“He’s sorta had his fill talking about Trump,” a spokesman emailed), Perry (“Thanks for thinking of him”) and Ted Cruz (“Not great timing on our end”); the previous nominee Mitt Romney (“You are kind to think of me,” he wrote); Trump stalwarts like Chris Christie (“We are going to take a pass this time”); Trump-averse Republican governors like Charlie Baker of Massachusetts (“The governor won’t be available”); and senators like Mike Lee, of Utah (“Senator Lee would love to talk to you about the state of the G.O.P. and conservatism in general. We are free anytime after Nov 8.”).
I tried Rubio, who has undergone more public agony than perhaps anyone about Trump. Rubio looks nauseated whenever someone asks him about the man he called “the most vulgar person to ever aspire to the presidency” but who later said he would be “honored” to speak for at the Republican convention before clarifying that if he did speak, he would only “speak about things I believe in, not somebody else’s platform.” Rubio also holds the astonishing position of saying he’ll vote for someone he has previously declared unfit to hold the American nuclear codes. You envision him under a mushroom cloud, assuring his kids that it could be even worse — at least he didn’t vote for Clinton. [Continue reading…]