Column: Three possible Republican nominees who aren’t Cruz or Trump

If the GOP decides not to nominate either of the two frontrunners, here’s whom the party could choose instead.

The Republican Party is facing a serious dilemma. Donald Trump’s sizable delegate lead in the GOP presidential nomination race has led party leaders to mount an anti-Trump campaign, practically begging delegates not to support him. Some Republicans have begun to see Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) as the best alternative to Trump, but that just goes to show how much of a mess this race is, because Republican legislators can’t stand Cruz. He was the last of the remaining Republican candidates to get an endorsement from a current senator. When he finally scored two in mid-March, the second one came from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), a former opponent who said in January that choosing between Trump and Cruz was like choosing between “being shot or poisoned.” Looks like he chose the latter..

Cruz could win the nomination at a contested Republican national convention in July, but if party leaders wised up and started lobbying against him as well, from whom would they be left to choose?

Gov. John Kasich: He’s the only one still running against Cruz and Trump. Winning his home state of Ohio on March 15 kept Kasich from exiting the race, but he lags so far behind Trump and Cruz that his chances of winning look somewhere between nonexistent and extremely slim. But according to Politico, Kasich is the candidate most acceptable to the party, mostly because he has stayed calm and classy while his opponents have torn into each other. He’s also the only remaining Republican who could beat Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton in the general election, according to several recent polls. The GOP might want to look twice at him if the party really wants to win the presidency in November.

Sen. Marco Rubio: This might sound crazy, but I’m not ruling him out. Even though he suspended his campaign March 15 after losing his home state of Florida, his 172 pledged delegates are still required to vote for him at the convention. In late March, he wrote to the 21 states and territories in which he had won delegates and requested to keep them all. Additionally, of all the candidates who made it past the New Hampshire primary, Rubio is the only one who hasn’t endorsed another candidate, a move that would allow his delegates to vote for that person. With that freedom, though, they could choose Trump over Cruz or Kasich, and Rubio claims his reason for keeping his delegates is to keep them away from Trump. I’m sure that’s true, but with so many votes for him guaranteed in the first round of the national convention, it’s possible that this election hasn’t seen the last of the ambitious Rubio. He said after leaving the race that he was “not running for anything,” but although his loss dealt a blow to his ego, he might have recovered and changed his mind since then.

Paul Ryan: The Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and 2012 Republican vice presidential candidate said on April 12, “I do not want nor will I accept the nomination of our party.” His former running mate Mitt Romney also refused the nomination in early March, making his point of view clear by saying the current candidates besides Trump would be better for the party. Deception experts, literally people who are trained and qualified to analyze speech in search of dishonesty, assessed Ryan’s comments and pointed out that he said nothing about any of the Republican candidates. He’s the chairman of the Republican national convention, and if by July the party is frustrated enough, it might seek a nominee that hasn’t run in the election. Ryan adamantly refused the House speakership in 2015 and took it only when his colleagues insisted. If the GOP decided to push Ryan into entering the presidential race, his record doesn’t make him likely to say no.

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