NYT’s Alex Burns: ‘Bottom Line,’ GOP ‘Didn’t Try Very Hard’ to Stop Trump

‘They counted all along on the notion that the voters would wake up to the stakes of this election’


KORNACKI: “One of the authors of that article Alex Burns, joins me here in New York. So this party, you have Ben Sasse a U.S. Senator saying if it’s Trump I’m looking for a third choice. We had a congressman here yesterday saying I won’t publicly endorse him. We see messy fights every four years for party nominations. Is this one so messy it can’t be put together by the Republican Party if Trump wins it?”
BURNS: “It’s in a different category than your heated primary threats and counter threats. Donald Trump is somebody who people broadly in the Republican Party establishment feel no loyalty to, no interest in cooperating with. This is not — if you think back to other nomination fights, Romney and Gingrich and Santorum, Obama and Clinton, some things were said that were later taken back. This one may be different. Somebody like Ben Sasse, mo brooks that was an incredible comment yesterday, these people are offended by Trump on a profound level and they feel like they lose the election if they’re with him and they lose the election if they’re without him so there’s really no — you don’t have the over arching imperative at the end of this primary we better pull together and get with Donald Trump.”
KORNACKI: “I was listening a minute ago we had that clip of Rubio saying you wouldn’t want your children to be like Donald Trump. What about one of the strategies, I think this will be debated for a long time if Donald Trump does emerge from this, this idea of was there anything that the Republican establishment could and should have been doing before now, the six months before now, that could have stopped Donald Trump or was this a force that was just so strong that no matter when they went after him it wasn’t going to work?”
BURNS: “You’ve seen this amazing just flip of the switch from sort of total confidence in the establishment that Trump will fade eventually to this fatalism that we probably couldn’t have stopped him no matter how hard we tried. The bottom line is they didn’t try very hard. They counted all along on the notion that the voters would wake up to the stakes of this election, maybe the attacks in Paris and California would make them look for someone with national security experience, maybe the death of Justice Scalia would make them refocus on the substantive stakes in this race. None of those things happened just sort of on their own and when you’re counting on gravity to pull a candidate down you’re really stuck with very few options left at your disposal as that force of nature doesn’t kick in.”
KORNACKI: “It feels like the other thing missing in all of that time was the obvious alternative to Trump, somebody that the party could and wanted to rally around, Rubio’s name has been out there for a while, a lot of people view him as the most logical lake effectable alternative but what was missing was people rallying around Marco Rubio and trying to clear out the field for him.”
BURNS: “And also Rubio taking on Trump directly. You hear the Rubio campaign saying now, you know, we’re sort of taunting Trump in this school yard fashion because that’s all you people in the media are going to cover but the reality is when Trump was rising last summer saying all these provocative and divisive things most of his opponents including Rubio and Jeb Bush were content to say this race isn’t about Donald Trump, this is about serious things. Donald Trump is an entertainer. Not really give it to him directly the way some of the minor candidates in the race like Rick Perry or Bobby Jindal or Lindsey Graham did.”

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