Trump proves GOP establishment can't stop him
NEW HAMPSHIRE (AP):
The current and former chiefs of the state Republican Party condemned him. New Hampshire's only two Republican members of Congress refused to endorse him. The conservative owner of the state's largest newspaper called him "a con man" on the front page.
Donald Trump won anyway, big time.
So, too, did Bernie Sanders, who will leave New Hampshire with the commanding victory one might expect of a front-runner blessed with the near universal favour of his party. Except all that establishment support belongs to Hillary Clinton.
Trump's 18-point victory and the self-described democratic socialist's 21-point win are reminders of the limits of party power in an age of anger towards Washington and frustration with politics.
Many Republican Party leaders may be terrified by Trump's ascendance, but have yet to divine a way to stop the billionaire real estate mogul. Clinton may have all the endorsements of her party's bold-faced names, but it is Sanders who is winning over the young people and independents who helped push Barack Obama to the White House.
On Tuesday, establishment-minded Republicans from New Hampshire expressed a mix of frustration and shame that it was their state that delivered Trump's first victory.
"I refuse to support him under any circumstance," said Fergus Cullen, a former New Hampshire Republican Party chairman. "Trump would be a disaster."
Cullen likened Trump to Pat Buchanan in 1996, the divisive former Nixon aide and conservative commentator who also won the New Hampshire primary. GOP leaders quickly coalesced behind mainstream alternative Bob Dole, the former Republican Senate leader who went on to win the nomination.
It wasn't because they loved Dole, Cullen said, but because they feared Buchannan would embarrass the Republican Party.
"The party was able to stop Buchannan 20 years ago," Cullen said. "Today, they're incapable of doing it."
For those like Cullen who oppose Trump, it only gets worse.