The Other Candidates and Trump

by Ramesh Ponnuru

Response To...

Rubio's Fans Should Relax, Continued

Mona, you have moved from arguing that it’s wrong for other candidates to “sabotage” Rubio to faulting the Jeb Bush-affiliated Super PAC for criticizing Rubio rather than Donald Trump. You say this even though you acknowledge the strategic reasons Bush supporters, who for some reason want their own candidate to win, might do that.

Versions of this argument were made against Ted Cruz earlier in the campaign: He was, supposedly, shirking some moral obligation to attack Trump. I have never bought this argument, but it’s bizarre when it’s made by Rubio supporters on behalf of Rubio–because Rubio has done far less than either Bush or Cruz to criticize Trump. And a Rubio-supporting Super PAC has been spending money attacking Bush. That money, just like the Bush SuperPAC money, could have been spent attacking Trump.

I don’t fault Rubio, or his supporters, for any of that. His decisions don’t reflect badly on him; they reflect that he is running in a primary. Candidates should behave strategically, and so should their supporters. Too many Rubio supporters apply a different standard to his rivals, effectively demanding that they behave in a way that promotes his interests. Everyone else should be faulted for not attacking Trump more; everyone should lay off Rubio. Maybe Rubio should be the nominee; but this is special pleading.

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