Like Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Mitt Romney does his party and the country a service by a no-nonsense stance on Donald Trump:
“This week, in the Utah nominating caucus, I will vote for Sen. Ted Cruz.
“Today, there is a contest between Trumpism and Republicanism. Through the calculated statements of its leader, Trumpism has become associated with racism, misogyny, bigotry, xenophobia, vulgarity and, most recently, threats and violence. I am repulsed by each and every one of these.
“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.
“I will vote for Senator Cruz and I encourage others to do so as well, so that we can have an open convention and nominate a Republican.”
Romney does not bother touting Cruz. The salient point is that Cruz is not Trump and can stop Trump from getting to 1,237 delegates.
Romney does not insist Cruz must be the nominee; to the contrary Romney makes clear Cruz is a vehicle to an open convention. It is an important distinction that should alleviate voters’ queasiness about voting for Cruz. They are essentially voting for an open convention to stop Trump.
Romney does not humor Kasich, who persists with the canard that he can arise from the ashes of the convention as the nominee. As the winner of one primary and a fraction of the delegates others have accumulated lay claim to the nomination, Kasich cannot be the answer to a deadlocked convention, especially in a year in which the electorate has rebelled against political insiders just like the crew trying to foist Kasich on the GOP. There is no groundswell of support for Kasich aside from his team of stale Beltway consultants. An effort to throw the nomination to him would be seen as no more legitimate than an effort to parachute in a non-candidate.
And finally, Romney makes clear that opposition to Trump is grounded in morality and decency. Trump’s philosophy — an “ism” like other dangerous causes built around a cult figure — is not something one can accommodate. It is incompatible with conservativism and little “d” democracy.
Romney and other respected Republicans — former Cabinet members, Bush 41 and Bush 43, former VPs and highly-respected, retired military officials should appear either in person or in media in each and every remaining primary and caucus state to reiterate that message. It is especially critical that they make that case in California, whose 172 delegates must be kept out of Trump’s clutches. It is time they defended the GOP from a putsch by the Trumpkins.
The message, in short, is not merely #NeverTrump, but #YesOpenConvention.