Ryan Lovelace wrote a piece in the Washington Examiner on October 11 about comments made by Jeff Roe, campaign manager for Texas Senator Ted Cruz's failed presidential campaign. Roe told an audience that Donald Trump could have beaten former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Democratic presidential primary. Roe said:
"I think he'd win the Democrat primary, if he would have ran as a Democrat," Roe said. "I don't think it's a pox on the Republican House like a lot of people do. If he would have, I mean, Bernie Sanders took Hillary [Clinton] to the mat." "If Donald Trump ran as a Democrat, he would have won their nomination," he added.
Now, Jeff Roe isn't generally considered to have a particularly sterling reputation. For example, former Missouri Senator John Danforth was quoted in a Politico article describing Roe as a "known slime-monger". So you really shouldn't expect much from him. But this particular comment is noteworthy because of its attempt to create some sort of equivalence between the Democratic and Republican parties in this election cycle.
It is true that Donald Trump has taken positions that have moved the GOP in a different direction than prior candidates, at least on some issues. But the argument that Donald Trump could win in the Democratic presidential primary assumes that Trump's key issues would have resonance among the Democratic electorate.
That is an absurd and frankly dishonest suggestion. Donald Trump came onto the national political scene promoting birtherism. He has run a campaign that can be described as being at best racially-charged if not outright racist and that campaign has inspired bigots both online and in real life. Then there is the misogyny of his rhetoric, which was even deployed against the wife of Senator Cruz.
The Democratic Party is hardly a perfect institution, but it is the party of minority inclusion and empowerment (see, e.g.: President Barack Obama) and modern feminism. The idea that Trump's message would be embraced by the Democratic Party in 2016 is absolutely ridiculous. The only way Trump would win a Democratic primary would be if he took positions completely contrary to the positions he has taken (in other words, running as someone other than the Donald Trump we know) and even then he'd lose because of his sordid personal history.
Donald Trump won the Republican primary because his message resonated with Republicans, pure and simple. That is a fact that has caused many thoughtful conservatives to enter into some soul-searching about what the GOP stands for and has led many to refrain from endorsing Donald Trump. Such conservatives should be given credit. In fact, Jeff Roe's former boss was one such conservative until he flip-flopped on that point.
Jeff Roe's intimation that Trump could have won the Democratic primary is an attempt at diversion. Donald Trump is a creature of the politics of resentment that has taken over the Republican Party. It is no accident that Trump won the GOP's presidential primary in this cycle and the only question is whether his style of politics will remain dominant in the Republican Party for years to come. But one thing is clear. Trump's politics would have gone nowhere in the Democratic Party and it is intellectually dishonest to claim otherwise.