Mark Makela / The New York Times

Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Cleveland in March.

March 15, 2016

Cornell Republicans Concerned by Trump’s Rise

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Members of Cornell Republicans voiced concern with Donald Trump’s recent primary victories and overwhelming public support, echoing the consternation of many Republican leaders around the country.

Jake Zhu ’18, first vice chair of Cornell Republicans, said he “would still hesitate to put money on it,” even though he thinks it is likely that Trump will win the Republican nomination.

Austin McLaughlin ’18, secretary of Cornell Republicans, said that while he is apprehensive because neither of the two GOP front-runners — Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) — represent the Republican Party, he is happy to see strong Republicans speaking out against Trump.

“[Speaker] Paul Ryan (R-WIs.) and Mitt Romney are two fantastic individuals that actually stand for Republican principles, with the former representing a new, younger brand of the Republican party in leadership,” McLaughlin said.

Robby Dunbar ’18, second vice chair of the College Republicans, said that although Ryan and Romney are speaking out against Trump, they are also weakening support for the Republican party as a whole and “furthering the rift in the part between those who support and don’t support Trump.”

“I foresee this as causing many establishment Republicans to vote for a third party Libertarian which would split Republican votes and essentially give the Democratic nominee the win,” Dunbar said. “I have heard many Republicans, especially those college aged, coming out and saying they will vote for third party Libertarian candidate — like Gary Johnson — or write-in a Republican such as Paul Ryan or Ben Sasse (R-Neb.).”

Unlike McLaughlin and Dunbar, Zhu said he thinks this increased backlash against Trump will be enough to curtail his support and catapult Cruz to become the Republican frontrunner.

“My hopes is that either Ted Cruz, who is a real conservative, beats out Trump for the remaining delegates or there is a brokered convention that spoils Trump’s chances,” Zhu said. “Ted Cruz will likely get the Republican nomination if Rubio and Kasich drop out soon. I expect most of their support to go towards Cruz, which puts him in the perfect position to beat out Trump in the remaining states.”

Disagreeing with Zhu, McLaughlin said that if Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and John Kasich (R-Ohio) drop out of the presidential race, he does not think Cruz will gain enough votes from their supporters to beat Trump.

“In my opinion, Trump cannot be stopped even if Kasich and Rubio drop out,” McLaughlin said. “While Kasich is too prideful and Rubio is positioned in a lose-lose scenario — either he drops out, or he stays in and has the chance to lose his home state — their moderate electorate will be split, but may migrate more to Trump than Cruz.”

McLaughlin said that Cruz’s recent wins could potentially alter the course of the primary, but even with these wins, Cruz will have difficulty defeating Trump.

“I think the RNC is quite divided — either they choose Trump and divide the party forever, or they do not choose Trump and pick someone that perhaps cannot win against Hillary,” McLaughlin said. “It is unclear if the Republican leadership will stand behind him and allow party cohesion to dissolve or choose not to and cause an uproar among his majority of supporters. I would not be surprised if we are looking at the demise of the Republican party in this election cycle.”

Overall, however, McLaughlin said that he is disheartened by the Republican party and the way the primaries have been proceeding.

“I will say that I am both discouraged and jaded by the two GOP front-runners, Trump and Cruz, of whom I believe neither represent my party,” McLaughlin said. “As a moderate and not a social conservative, Cruz in particular represents very little that I stand for — that being limited government and individual rights. Trump is a cancer on the party.”