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The headdesk moment of the Republican debate came thanks to Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, who spent most of the night attacking Donald Trump, then pledged to support him as the GOP’s nominee for President. John Kasich, who was a bit of an afterthought last night, also vowed to support him as the nominee. The endorsements from all three candidates came despite weeks of criticisms about Trump, including juvenile back-and-forths that then managed to seep onto last night’s debate stage and a national audience:
Trump taunted Rubio as “little Marco” and loosed a string of insults at Cruz: “Liar … the lying guy up here … lying Ted.”
Rubio, the Florida senator, portrayed Trump as a con artist, and Cruz repeatedly questioned Trump’s temperament and stability to serve as commander in chief. “We need a president who isn’t rash,” said the senator from Texas, “who doesn’t pop off at the hip.”
The fourth candidate onstage, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, spent much of the night chiding others for their tone, but he gently joined the pile-on, suggesting Trump was no different from any other politician who says one thing to get elected then does another in office.
Now despite weeks of arguing that Trump is unsuitable to be leader of the free world, all three candidates say they would put him in the White House anyway. Even Marco Rubio — who said just a few days ago that Trump will “split apart” the Republican Party as nominee — would still vote Trump. So much for that repudiation, Marco.
Rubio, Cruz, and Kasich so easily willing to roll over and support Trump’s dangerous policies despite their criticisms of him is moral bankruptcy at it’s worst. The party’s 2008 nominee, Sen. John McCain, ran on a “Country First” slogan. But 2016’s GOP candidates — who have all flung to the extreme right thanks to the “Trump Effect” — seem perfectly willing to put party over country instead.
Latinos, Asian-Americans, African-Americans, and other voters of color will again have the chance to reject this kind of ugliness in 2016, as they did in 2012 in record numbers. The question is if Republicans will learn their lesson. Just yesterday, the GOP’s last nominee, Mitt Romney, gave a forceful speech rejecting Trump’s campaign. But, many were quick to note that Romney skated over the party’s “Latino problem,” the same demographic that handed him a defeat in 2012, and that the GOP needs in order to recapture the White House in 2016.
Last night, despite their protestations, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and John Kasich gave their assent to Donald Trump as leader of the Republican Party. And, Marco saying during the debate that he’d support Trump — and then promoting #DumpTrump merchandise from his store after — is the very same kind of con-artistry he’s accusing Trump of undertaking.