Last week, Bob Dole tried to explain why the establishment should prefer Donald Trump to Sen. Ted Cruz. Dole claimed Trump is someone with whom the Establishment can make a deal. Cruz responded by saying, “So if as a voter you think what we need is more Republicans in Washington to cut a deal with Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer, then I guess Donald Trump’s your guy.” Cruz went on to say, “The Establishment is abandoning Sen. Marco Rubio — I think they’ve made the determination that Marco can’t win, and they’re rushing to support Donald Trump.” The Cruz response continues the effort to define himself as the principled Conservative and Trump as an enabler of compromise.
The Cruz theme might be working. CNN reports that during an interview with Wolf Blitzer, Trump insisted hat the Republican Establishment is against him, but conceded it is warming to his candidacy:
I think the establishment actually is against me, but really coming on line because they see me as opposed to Cruz who is a nasty guy who can’t get along with anybody.
Sahil Kapur reports that while some Establishment Republicans do prefer Trump to Cruz, others see the billionaire as the more dangerous candidate. Strategists preferring Cruz view are urging the Establishment not to aid Trump ahead of next week’s Iowa caucuses. According to Kapur, there is no Establishment consensus as to whether Trump or Cruz represents the greater threat. Numerous GOP strategists with establishment connections who spoke with Kapur on condition of anonymity, say Trump’s upside is that he’s a businessman who they believe may be more pragmatic than ideological when push comes to shove, while Cruz’ upside is that he’s a longtime devotee to Conservative causes (unlike Trump, who has famously voiced liberal views in the past) and more predictable.
For now it remains Cruz the principled Conservative versus Trump as an enabler of compromise Does that make Trump Establishment?