When Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas announced Tuesday night, after losing Indiana, that he was suspending his presidential primary campaign, it was not a fatal blow to the stop-Trump movement. Many Republicans who oppose Donald Trump -- because he's a self-serving, unreliable conservative likely to alienate huge swaths of the American electorate -- weren't particularly strong on Cruz, a staunch conservative but also a craven opportunist who hurt the GOP brand with such kamikaze stunts as his push to shut down the government in a bound-to-fail (and it did) bid to defund Obamacare.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich is a different story. A strong conservative who talks like a liberal, Kasich also polled as the Republican likeliest to beat Hillary Clinton. He presented the great white hope of Republicans who wanted a contested national convention to save them from Trump. After watching Kasich's announcement Wednesday that he is suspending his campaign, I still do not know why Kasich, who lacked the ability to win the needed number of delegates long ago, waited until he was the last Republican left on the field to fold up his tent and go home.
Kasich's departure is a shame. In April, a NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll asked voters whether they rated candidates favorably or unfavorably. Only two hopefuls, Kasich and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., had more positive than negative numbers -- Kasich by 12 percent and Sanders by 9 percent. The two least popular presidential hopefuls are their parties' presumptive nominees. Trump had a net poll rating of negative 41 percent (24 percent liked him, and 65 percent did not), and Hillary Clinton was at negative 24 percent (32 percent liked her, 56 percent did not).
It tells you how vulnerable Clinton is that she has had to fight so hard to defeat a 74-year-old self-described "democratic socialist" from a one-congressman state. Democrats didn't like her 2002 Senate vote for the invasion of Iraq, which is why they dumped her for Barack Obama in 2008. In 2016, they may say they don't mind that as secretary of state, she sent all her emails on a private server, but they know it's another example of Clinton's putting her career before her country.
Some Republicans are swallowing hard and lining up behind Trump. Others are burning their voter registration cards. A few already have declared their support for Clinton. GOP political consultant Kevin Spillane told me he's bitter GOP voters rewarded Clinton's "dishonesty and cynicism" by going for Trump. And: "I'm going to vote for (Libertarian) Gary Johnson as a protest vote."
Me? I know there's only one good choice -- putting off a decision until October.