BAYHAM: The Trump Train Rolls Through Amtrak-Land

Media swarmed the Republican National Committee meeting in Hollywood, Florida last week, hoping that the assembled state chairs and national committee members would give them a rule change or something incendiary that would have touched off a Donald Trump-Earl Long-esque tirade at the Republican Party.

There were no rules changes made and an attempt to explore subbing out Congress’ rules with Robert’s Rules of Order for running the convention went down in flames. The 8-state nomination rule wasn’t so much touched.

Trump skipped the conclave of party big wigs but sent an emissary who more or less spilled the beans that his client was embracing the “etch-a-sketch” strategy that worked so well for the last guy.

Trump’s rivals, seeing the hopelessness of Tuesday’s Amtrak Primaries, felt their time would be better spent trying to woo over a room full of super delegates than stumping for 10% in Rhode Island to receive the delegate debris from the Ocean State’s generous proportional system or crisscrossing rural Pennsylvania to pick up a handful of uncommitted delegates in the Keystone State’s Keystone Cop loophole primary.

While I don’t know if the luxurious beachside resort that hosted the RNC meeting was where Team Kasich and Team Cruz decided to split the baby on the remaining state contests, it was not long after the RNC meeting that the two camps publicized their gentlemen’s agreement to engineer head to head match ups against Trump, who had greatly benefited from divided candidate fields.

Cruz got the better end of the deal, though out of necessity as it seems the Ohio governor’s campaign team has finally regained their wits.

Kasich would pull out of Indiana (the contest after the mid-Atlantic and northeastern primaries) in exchange for Cruz passing on Oregon and New Mexico.

Indiana is winner take most (first to the post statewide and in the congressional districts) while Oregon and New Mexico are proportional, meaning Cruz can do nothing and still garner delegates.

As argued last week after Trump’s big Empire State win, Indiana is the line in the sand where Trump is pushed back or where he blitzes through the remaining contests en route to a first ballot nomination win.

Forget math and the small ball delegate details- if Trump extends his winning streak in a place where Cruz should win (a Midwestern socially conservative state), the billionaire will almost certainly win West Virginia the next week- and that will be the kill shot on Cruz even if he manages to win Nebraska’s winner take all primary that same day.

Trump doesn’t need to have won 1,237 once the last ballots are finished being counted in California on June 7th; if Trump is in the 1100’s, there are enough uncommitted delegates from the territories willing to broker their all of a sudden important pockets of votes and state party officials who would very much like to be ambassador to Montenegro to deliver what he needs to clinch on the first ballot. This is politics after all.

And just as The Donald explains away his large donations to the likes of his probable general election opponent, it’s just business- nothing personal.

Call it the Art of the Deal meets an American civics book-though one edited by Rodney Dangerfield’s Thornton Mellon character from Back to School.

And like Mr. Mellon, we are aware that some of the people who run the waste disposal industry share similar values with the delegate brokers. Neither are boy scouts.

The Kasich-Cruz Axis must survive the Indiana primary, where Cruz is trailing Trump by only a handful of points. Kasich’s Cruz-loathing voters need to actually do the deed of casting a ballot for the Texas US Senator. Tweeting HASHTAG NEVER TRUMP! and quietly voting for Kasich is a sanctimoniously egotistical gesture that translates to #CertainTrump.

As for Trump, his triumph in AmtrakLand padded his significant delegate lead as he tries to set off a politico stampede to his camp to ensure that Indiana is his final intraparty battle of consequence.

However, no Republican should be moved by landslide wins by a candidate in a region that hasn’t voted Republican en masse since Reagan ’84.

That region has produced nothing but solid Democratic electoral votes for a generation and has now doubled up by delivering a load of delegates to a politically toxic party nominee.

As the Trump Train pulls out of AmtrakLand and rolls towards America’s crossroads in Indiana toting college basketball coaching legend Bobby Knight in a Pullman car, Republican voters in the Hoosier State are going to have to decide whether they want to use this consequential moment in the history of the GOP to vent their spleen or win in November.

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