In this time of trouble for the GOP, Why Pence is the Best Option, Succinctly Put

From The Atlantic, Why Not Pence:

Consider the position Republicans find themselves in. First, and most obviously, their front-running candidate is fighting four criminal prosecutions. To say that this will be a distraction for him and the party is putting it mildly. Trump may be required to attend one or more of his trials in person. Even when he is not physically present, managing his trials will be a full-time job. His campaign, his social media, and his public persona will all be consumed by his legal problems, which are not what most voters want to hear about.

Regardless of Trump’s entanglement with the law, he is a lousy candidate. He has already lost once to Joe Biden, and nothing has changed dramatically in his favor since then. Biden has weaknesses of his own, but his flaws—his age, his lack of vision, his muddled messaging—recede into the background against Trump’s chaotic volatility. He is well positioned to run another version of his 2020 front-porch campaign, emphasizing his steadiness, the strong economy, and a thousand infrastructure projects while Trump noisily defeats himself. Biden is a weak incumbent who is only strong against Trump.

Even on his own terms, Trump is a bad bet. He lost the popular vote twice and drove Republican losses in 2018 and 2022. He is a turnout machine—for Democrats, who will walk over hot coals to vote against him. True, the plurality of the Republican base loves him, but many Republicans do not.

Figure that roughly a third of Republicans are Only Trumpers. They adore him and will not consider anyone else for the nomination. Perhaps another third are Anybody But Trumpers, who want to put Trump in the rear-view mirror. They will jump at a plausible, electable alternative, and almost anyone in the Republican field will do.

That leaves a third group, the Open-Minded Middle. They like Trump, maybe even love him, but are worried about his electability and will consider alternatives. They don’t want to see Trump bad-mouthed, but if the Republican Party were to coalesce around another candidate with a path to victory, they would rally to the cause.

What Republicans need, then, is a candidate who can gather enough Anybody But Trumpers and Open-Minded Middlers to win the nomination and then corral enough independents and swing voters to win the general election. Who is qualified for that job?

First, a candidate who is not Donald Trump and is not involved in multiple criminal trials. Enough said.

Second, a candidate with a reputation for probity and decency. That puts the party on high moral ground and allows it to highlight Biden’s problems with his wayward son, while appealing to voters who want an honest and law-abiding president.

Third, a low-risk proposition—someone who has governed at the highest levels and is ready for the White House; who has knowledge of world affairs and leaders; who has a steady temperament and can be trusted to keep the heat on Russia and not wreck NATO.

Fourth, a proven conservative who can plausibly sell himself as continuing the policies and appointments that conservatives admire without all the baggage and chaos that marred Trump’s effectiveness.

Fifth, someone with a strong connection to the party’s evangelical base. Though perhaps no one can rival Trump’s cultic hold on white evangelicals, a deeply convicted Christian who has actually read the Bible and can be relied on for solid judges and conservative policies would be more than adequate from evangelicals’ point of view.

Only one person checks all those boxes. No one else even comes close. The presumptive rival to Trump, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, has no foreign-policy experience, no message except anti-wokeness, and a persona that makes Grumpy Cat seem genial. He would unify Democrats in opposition and drive them to the polls as no one other than Trump himself will do. And, as of now, he is falling to pieces.

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