Last week, a whole bunch of Vermont Republicans (including Phil Scott) issued a mass endorsement of Marco Rubio, forswearing their perceived favorite, John Kasich. They argued that Rubio was best positioned to block the establisment Republican bete noire, Donald J. Trump.
In doing so, they well and truly shot themselves in the foot.
The Vermont primary results: Trump narrowly beat Kasich, while Rubio was a distant third and failed to win a single delegate. It’s hard to imagine a worse outcome for the state’s Republican establishment.
And it seems obvious that if Vermont Republicans had stuck with Kasich, he would have won the state. He trails Trump by less than three percent, while Rubio took almost 20 percent.
In the long run it makes no difference, but it would have saved the VTGOP the embarrassment of being one more state in the Trump column. Vermont Republican leaders made their distaste for Trump abundantly clear; now, he is their standard-bearer, and they could have avoided that fate if they hadn’t been too clever by half.
Marco Rubio is not a Vermont-style politician. Kasich is not much better in terms of policy, but in presentation and temperament he’s a natural fit for Vermont. The last-minute mass endorsement was doomed to failure. It’s another instance of the party leadership being badly out of touch with the base.
So now they’ll either have to ignore Trump and try to win without him, or they’ll have to rally ‘round him and eat a banquet’s worth of their own words. Like, for instance, Phil Scott saying “I cannot support someone who exploits fear for political gain” and demanding “a certain standard of decorum” from presidential candidates. Well, now he’s going to be stuck with a candidate who gives “decorum” the middle finger.
So what’ll it be, Phil? Swallow your pride and endorse Trump? Or abandon your party’s presidential nominee and first choice of your own state party’s voters?