News / USA

    Republican Party Identity Questioned as Rubio, Cruz Attack Trump

    Republican U.S. presidential candidates (L-R) U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, Donald Trump and Senator Ted Cruz speak at the debate sponsored by CNN for the 2016 Republican U.S. presidential candidates in Houston, Texas, Feb. 25, 2016.
    Republican U.S. presidential candidates (L-R) U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, Donald Trump and Senator Ted Cruz speak at the debate sponsored by CNN for the 2016 Republican U.S. presidential candidates in Houston, Texas, Feb. 25, 2016.

    Two wings of a divided Republican party have focused the most intense attacks to date on frontrunner Donald Trump in a last-chance bid to stop the billionaire businessman's momentum before a set of crucial primary elections.

    After weeks of battling one another, Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Texas Senator Ted Cruz - representing the party establishment and its conservative wing respectively - unleashed a barrage of attacks on the outspoken candidate in a final debate before Super Tuesday balloting in 11 states.

    Apparently unfazed, Trump was effusive Friday in a press conference where he ridiculed Rubio and announced the high-profile endorsement of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie - himself a presidential contender until he dropped out earlier this month.

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump smiles as he stands with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie before a rally in Fort Worth, Texas, Feb. 26, 2016.
    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump smiles as he stands with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie before a rally in Fort Worth, Texas, Feb. 26, 2016.

    Rubio enjoyed one of his best performances of the campaign in Thursday's debate, joining with Cruz to raise questions about lawsuits past and present against Trump and charges that he covers up a thin policy platform with the same repeated statements.  

    Analysts say those attacks may have come too late to change the minds of voters who are attracted to Trump and the way he questions longstanding Republican Party orthodoxy.

    “Trump has come in and changed the conversation in ways that traditional Republicans are not ready to accept,” said John Feehery, a Republican pundit who heads the CGA Public Affairs Group in Washington.

    That nervousness doesn’t necessarily translate into a consensus on an alternative.  Analysts and the media talk about a so-called “establishment lane” but Feehery says it’s not as simple as a monolithic group of donors and insiders deciding on one candidate to challenge Trump.

    Previously, only Jeb Bush had challenged Trump directly in debates. Feehery notes Bush’s donors are from the group most likely to be thought of as “establishment” Republicans.  They haven’t immediately united behind one-term Senator Rubio while Ted Cruz’ donors are unhappy with the party establishment and unlikely to join forces with others.

    “They’re all starting to realize that if they don’t take out Donald Trump, he’s going to run away with it,” said Feehery. “That’s why they’ve sharpened the knives and started going after him.”

    Cruz and Rubio took aim at Trump while holding back on attacks on each other, but, the most successful criticism of Trump may have come hours earlier on Twitter from the last man to hold the nomination - Mitt Romney – who alleged that Trump's confidential tax returns contain highly damaging information.

    The Romney camp stands out for its attacks as donors and establishment figures stay out of the fray for fear of lawsuits and being called out directly by Trump.

    Must-win states

    The path forward for Ted Cruz leads through his home state of Texas, one of 11 states holding votes on Super Tuesday.  Feehery said Republican voters in Texas face an interesting choice that may shed light on the future of the party moving forward.

    Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas speaks during a rally in Houston, Texas, Feb. 24, 2016.
    Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas speaks during a rally in Houston, Texas, Feb. 24, 2016.

    Cruz is loved by many anti-establishment Texan Republicans but his anti-Washington talk has alienated more mainstream members of the party.

    “The question is – where do they go?  Do they go with Trump to knock out Cruz or do they spread their votes among Rubio and Kasich?” he said.

    Meanwhile, Marco Rubio has yet to win a state in a caucus or primary contest.  Trump's nomination is not inevitable if Rubio can stay alive until the March 15 primary in his home state of Florida, said political analyst Stu Rothenberg.

    Feehery agreed, saying, “At some point in time, you’ve got to start winning delegates and if Rubio can’t win Florida, he can’t win anywhere.”

    Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is welcomed at a rally in Houston, Texas, Feb. 24, 2016.
    Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is welcomed at a rally in Houston, Texas, Feb. 24, 2016.

    If Rubio and Kasich continue on in the race, the possibility of uniting the two men in some combination of a presidential-vice presidential ticket becomes attractive.  

    “That’s the dream team for the Washington establishment – Rubio-Kasich or Kasich-Rubio,” said Feehery.


    Katherine Gypson

    Katherine Gypson is a reporter for VOA’s News Center in Washington, D.C.  Prior to joining VOA in 2013, Katherine produced documentary and public affairs programming in Afghanistan, Tunisia and Turkey. She also produced and co-wrote a 12-episode road-trip series for Pakistani television exploring the United States during the 2012 presidential election. She holds a Master’s degree in Journalism from American University. Follow her @kgyp

    You May Like

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora