"Dithering" GOP Running Out of Time

Mar 3, 2016

Billionaire Donald Trump won seven of the Super Tuesday primary contests to take a commanding lead in the race for the Republican presidential nomination. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also claimed victory in seven of the states voting Tuesday, making it all but impossible for Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders to overtake her in the race for the Democratic nomination.

On Tuesday night, Texas Senator Ted Cruz urged candidates who hadn't yet won a contest to drop out and unite behind his campaign, or face the likelihood of Trump winning the nomination. Cruz won his home state of Texas, the neighboring state of Oklahoma and Alaska. Dr. Ben Carson heeded his advice Wednesday, announcing he saw "no political path forward" for his campaign. Florida Senator Marco Rubio gained his first victory Tuesday, winning the state of Minnesota and vowing to continue the fight.

Iowa State University Political Science Professor Steffen Schmidt says in a normal election year, the GOP would begin to unite behind the front runner at this point, but that's not happening with Trump.

"He's not a conventional Republican candidate, and that scares the RNC. They have this dilemma of someone who is doing well, but they're not comfortable with it."

Donna Hoffman, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Northern Iowa, agrees. She says Cruz is trying to make the case that he should be the one to go up against Trump, but the Republican establishment isn't entirely comfortable with him either.

"The challenge that the party has is that the mainstream doesn't want Trump to be the standard bearer, but they've dithered over that decision."

Hoffman says the GOP is running out of time to decide who the alternative to Trump should be.

While Clinton's victories solidified her front runner status, there are questions about whether Sanders backers will support her in a general election. Hoffman says there are segments within Sanders supporters who don't like Clinton.

"The danger is those voters stay at home. Clinton has to make inroads to keep them in the fold and keep them active."

Schmidt says polls continue to show that Clinton is not trusted.

In this edition of River to River, Host Ben Kieffer talks with Schmidt and Hoffman about the Super Tuesday results and takes calls from listeners about how they view the state of the campaign.