The Blog

Strange Anti-Trump Bedfellows: China and the Republican Establishment

Ultimately, there is a grave danger for the Republican Party itself. Any dirty tricks by Establishment Republicans to deny Trump the nomination would reopen the door to Trump's nuclear option.
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

It's the "strange bedfellows" coalition of this new century: The Republican Establishment and Chinese Communist Party are both lobbying hard to defeat the Trump for President juggernaut.

Consider that in the wake of Trump's Nevada primary romp, China's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying "warned the United States not to adopt punitive currency policies that could disrupt U.S.-China relations" should Trump ultimately triumph. Within hours, Republican Establishment surrogate Mitt Romney launched a bitter and biting attack that parroted a recent Trump critique by Wall Street Journal editorialists.

As to which strange bedfellow has a better chance of knocking Trump off his perch, I wouldn't bet on Communist China -not if past is prologue. Indeed, the last time Beijing directly interfered in a presidential election, the result was an embarrassing landslide victory for the candidate China opposed.

Beijing's electoral embarrassment happened in the 1990s. To cow Taiwan voters into opposing pro-independence candidate Lee Teng-hui, Beijing quite literally fired "warning shot" missile tests less than 40 miles off Taiwan's bow. This was followed by a mock Taiwan invasion - and, shortly thereafter, Lee's landslide win delivered by an angry Taiwanese electorate.

As for the Republican Establishment's strategy to defeat Trump, here's the likely line of attack now that Establishment darling Jeb Bush has fallen on the scrap heap of voter disdain. Establishment Party leaders will find a dark, smoke-filled room and try to hammer out the details of a three-candidate "axis of Republican evil" between Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and John Kasich.

The strategic goal will be to deprive Trump of the 1,237 delegates necessary to secure the nomination before the convention so that Rubio, Cruz, and Kasich can pool their delegates on behalf of one of them - likely Rubio - at a brokered convention. Meanwhile, either Cruz or Kasich will get the VP slot while the "odd man out" will be assured of a high-level cabinet post (Treasury for Cruz or State for Kasich).

So will this cynical "Dump Trump" gambit work? Here's the clear danger for The Donald:
If Rubio wins his home state of Florida with its 99 delegates and Ohio's favorite son Kasich wins Ohio with its 66 delegates, that will make it difficult for Trump to lock up the nomination before the convention. This is because Florida and Ohio are two of only ten states where it's "winner take all" and a combined 165 delegates is a big bite out of the nomination apple for Trump to lose. Thus, the stage would be set for the dreaded brokered convention - which Trump would have great difficulty winning.

Of course, agreeing to any such backroom deal would be a very dangerous game for both Rubio and Kasich as these two are now the leading contenders for the vice presidential nomination. For Rubio's part, it has become all too clear he is simply too young to be a winning presidential nominee - particularly after the fiasco of a Barack Obama with a similar profile of inexperience and youth.

That said, Rubio could easily step into the VP role and help deliver the swing state of Florida for Trump and the Party. Win or lose in 2016, Rubio would then be very well-positioned for a presidential run in 2020 or 2024.

As for a Kasich knife in the back that fails to kill Trump, this would likewise end the VP dreams of a candidate who has shown an appealing Biden-like quality to play a solid "second fiddle" - but little ability to run and galvanize voters at the top of the ticket. So Kasich must weigh his own options here very carefully before getting into bed with the Establishment Republican cabal.

Ultimately, there is also this grave danger for the Republican Party itself. Any dirty tricks by Establishment Republicans to deny Trump the nomination would reopen the door to Trump's "nuclear option": An independent Trump campaign as a third party candidate.

Such a third party run would shatter the Republican Party into a million pieces and likely hand the election either to Trump or Hillary Clinton - but certainly not to any Republican Establishment candidate. That is perhaps why the ultimate strategy for the Establishment Base might be to bite the bullet and support Trump - and thereby satisfy a restive base longing for long overdue changes on key issues like trade, immigration and national defense.

Peter Navarro is a professor at the University of California-Irvine. He is the author of Crouching Tiger: What China's Militarism Means for the World (Prometheus Books) and director of the companion Crouching Tiger documentary film series. For more information and to access film interview clips, visit or see his book talk on CSPAN2.

Popular in the Community