Romney will back Cruz; so should we all

Mitt Romney has announced that he will support Ted Cruz in next week’s Utah caucuses. Romney explained that supporting Cruz is the only effective way to prevent Donald Trump from winning the nomination:

The only path that remains to nominate a Republican rather than Mr. Trump is to have an open convention. At this stage, the only way we can reach an open convention is for Senator Cruz to be successful in as many of the remaining nominating elections as possible.

I like Governor John Kasich. I have campaigned with him. He has a solid record as governor. I would have voted for him in Ohio. But a vote for Governor Kasich in future contests makes it extremely likely that Trumpism would prevail.

Romney is right. Kasich is a no-hoper, except perhaps when it comes to the vice presidential nomination on a Trump ticket (and I don’t even like his chances for that). From a stop-Trump perspective, the small number of delegates he may collect going forward is offset by the barrier he poses to Cruz’s more realistic quest to win a substantial number of delegates.

Sean Trende writes:

Under a scenario [with Kasich staying in the race], Trump wins 1,296 delegates and clinches the nomination on the last day of primary voting. Under [a] Kasich-less scenario, however, Trump has 1,125 delegates, while Cruz collects 899.

Given that under the second scenario, Cruz rattles off a string of wins at the end, and given the fact that Rubio’s and Kasich’s 300 delegates would probably disproportionately gravitate toward Cruz, this would likely be enough deny Trump the nomination.

Trende’s scenarios can be questioned when it comes to precise delegate counts. However, his view that a Kasich-free scenario is more conducive than a three-man race to stopping the tycoon seems entirely sound.

Kasich himself struggles to identify states where he poses a credible threat to Trump. I have heard him cite Maryland, where I live. Yet, a Baltimore Sun poll shows him running a distant third. Trump leads with 34 percent and Cruz is next with 25 percent. Kasich has only 18 percent.

Now consider Utah. According to Dave Weigel of the Washington Post, Kasich, who has several important endorsements, probably “can only hurt Cruz” there.

Given how poorly Trump has done with Mormon voters, Cruz is thought to have a shot at winning all 40 Utah delegates. However, to achieve this, he must win more than 50 percent of the vote. Kasich is thought to pose a serious obstacle to achieving that level of support.

Stopping Trump isn’t the only reason for conservatives to rally around Cruz. In my opinion, he Cruz always been the truest conservative candidate in the race. Now, with Ben Carson and Marco Rubio gone, I consider Cruz the only strongly conservative candidate remaining.

John Kasich has been, as Romney says, a good governor of Ohio. If the race were between him and Trump, I like to think that I’d walk barefoot over hot coals to see Kasich nominated.

But Kasich is a man of the center-right, not a strong conservative. This must be clear to anyone who has watched the debates.

Because he’s substantially less conservative than Cruz, Kasich may be more electable in November. But he has no path to the nomination — the best he can do is help clear Trump’s. Thus, even for conservatives who put the highest premium on electability, there is no good reason to support Kasich.

Rumor has it that Rubio is set to endorse the Texan, but Rubio’s backers should not wait for this to happen. It’s time — in fact, it’s past time — for conservatives to rally behind Ted Cruz.

You can contribute to the Cruz campaign here. I just did.