With Donald Trump set for a yuuge victory in tomorrow's Super Tuesday slugfest - oddsmakers see 80% chance of Trump being the nominee - tensions are mounting dramatically within the Republican establishment. As The FT reports, many mainstream Republicans believe Mr Trump would struggle to beat Hillary Clinton and are urgently rallying around their man Rubio with some senior Republicans saying privately that they might consider voting for Mrs Clinton if Mr Trump were to end up as their party nominee as one conservative commentator exclaimed "we are on the verge of a real meltdown in the Republican party."
Trump's lead in the polls over his GOP nominee 'peers' continues to grow...
As The FT reports, while Mr Rubio and Mr Trump ramp up their attacks on each other ahead of the March 1 primaries, Republican grandees and lawmakers are turning to the Florida senator as they become increasingly worried that the property tycoon could lock up the GOP presidential nomination within three weeks.
They fear that a victory for Mr Trump could fatally fracture the party and prevent them from winning the White House in November.
Many mainstream Republicans believe Mr Trump would struggle to beat Hillary Clinton, the clear Democratic frontrunner after her resounding victory over Bernie Sanders in South Carolina on Saturday, given the comments he has made about Hispanics, Muslims, women, disabled people and people who have criticised his campaign.
But, as the following chart shows, it's far too close to call...
The FT goes on to note that Mr Trump on Sunday issued a thinly-veiled warning that he would consider running as an independent.
“The Republican Establishment has been pushing for lightweight Senator Marco Rubio to say anything to “hit” Trump. I signed the pledge-careful,” he tweeted, a reference to a pledge that all candidates signed to back the party’s eventual nominee.
As panic is setting in within The GOP...
“We are on the verge of a real meltdown in the Republican party,” Hugh Hewitt, the influential conservative radio talk-show host told ABC television on Sunday.
Some senior Republicans have said privately that they might consider voting for Mrs Clinton if Mr Trump were to end up as their party nominee. “You’ll see a lot of Republicans do that,” Christine Whitman, the former New Jersey governor who previously compared Mr Trump to Hitler, told the New Jersey Star-Ledger.
“We don’t want to. But I know I won’t vote for Trump.”
But none other than Rupert Murdoch chimed in at the craziness and infighting...
Both "establishment" Republicans and Trump need to cool it and close ranks to fight real enemy. Trump, Rubio, Kasich could all win general.— Rupert Murdoch (@rupertmurdoch) February 28, 2016
And now the neocons are declaring war on Trump (as The Intercept notes)...
Donald Trump’s runaway success in the GOP primaries so far is setting off alarm bells among neoconservatives who are worried he will not pursue the same bellicose foreign policy that has dominated Republican thinking for decades.
Neoconservative historian Robert Kagan — one of the prime intellectual backers of the Iraq war and an advocate for Syrian intervention — announced in the Washington Post last week that if Trump secures the nomination “the only choice will be to vote for Hillary Clinton.”
Max Boot, an unrepentant supporter of the Iraq war, wrote in the Weekly Standard that a “Trump presidency would represent the death knell of America as a great power,” citing, among other things, Trump’s objection to a large American troop presence in South Korea.
Trump has done much to trigger the scorn of neocon pundits. He denounced the Iraq war as a mistake based on Bush administration lies, just prior to scoring a sizable victory in the South Carolina GOP primary. In last week’s contentious GOP presidential debate, he defended the concept of neutrality in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which is utterly taboo on the neocon right. “It serves no purpose to say you have a good guy and a bad guy,” he said, pledging to take a neutral position in negotiating peace.
With Trump’s ascendancy, it’s possible that the parties will re-orient their views on war and peace, with Trump moving the GOP to a more dovish direction and Clinton moving the Democrats towards greater support for war.