Republican party officials are giddy over the prospect of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz joining forces in Cleveland and taking on Hillary Clinton in the general election this fall.
“A Trump-Cruz combo is guaranteed to win us at least one state in the general election, and possibly even two,” says a Republican party operative who asked not to be identified so he could talk candidly about campaign strategy. “Let Hillary Clinton and whoever she’s running with take 48, maybe 49 states. With our two leading candidates joining forces, we’ll get a state—and maybe two. And they could be big ones.”
The operative thinks a pairing of real estate mogul Donald Trump with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz will net the Republicans Texas, with its 38 electoral votes, and other southern states could be in play as well, although former secretary of state Clinton is expected to do well in the South, especially if she picks U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro to be her running mate. Castro is a former mayor of San Antonio and is expected to help her with Hispanics and Southerners in general.
The idea of Trump and Cruz joining forces in the fall isn’t an idle fantasy. Republican party officials are saying it’s a done deal. “It’s as good as set in stone,” says a party official who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “With Trump, we get zero states in the general election. With Cruz, we get one state, Texas. With the two of them, we get Texas and possibly a second or even a third state. So, yeah, we’re pumped about this.”
Peter Reynolds, a retired insurance executive in Tulsa, Okla., says he would never vote for Trump because of his past liberal attitudes about gays and abortions, and the fact that he doesn’t go to church, but with Cruz on the ticket, he feels better about casting his vote for the New Yorker. “I know Ted will keep him in line,” says Reynolds.
John Morton, a Republican party activist who will serve as a delegate from Alabama at the Republican national convention in July, says a Trump-Cruz ticket will have a good shot at capturing Alabama, which would mean Republicans could sweep a quarter of the South. “As we stand here today, does anyone think the Republicans could walk away with three southern states in November?” Morton says. “No, of course not. But with Trump and Cruz combining forces, a three-state sweep isn’t just a fantasy; it’s a possibility.”
Adding Alabama to the Republican column will get Republicans 53 votes in the electoral college, leaving Democrats with just 485. “If I were Democrats right now,” says Morton, “I would be very, very nervous. With Trump’s high negatives with all voting constituencies except for white men, and with Cruz the least liked member of the U.S. Senate and a lawmaker most Americans fear and viscerally dislike, how can we lose putting the two together? We can’t, because we’re sure to get at least one state, and, as we’ve seen, possibly even three. Talk of the Republican party’s death is certainly premature.”
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