“[Trump’s] got the right personality and he’s kind of a deal-maker,” said Bob Dole, the former Republican senator and 1996 presidential candidate.
Bob Dole opposed Ronald Reagan in 1980, calling him a fringe candidate who’d destroy the GOP. That’s what he is saying about Ted Cruz now.
“We can live with Trump,” said Richard F. Hohlt, a veteran lobbyist, reflecting his colleagues’ sentiment at a Republican National Committee meeting last week in Charleston, S.C. “Do they all love Trump? No. But there’s a feeling that he is not going to layer over the party or install his own person. Whereas Cruz will have his own people there.”
If Mr. Cruz were the party’s nominee, said Charles R. Black Jr., a lobbyist who has worked on numerous Republican presidential campaigns, “what would happen is a lot of the elected leaders and party elders would try to sit down and try to help Cruz run a better campaign, but he may not listen. Trump is another matter.”
“You can coach Donald,” Mr. Black said.
“Trump won’t do long-lasting damage to the G.O.P. coalition,” said John Feehery, a Capitol Hill aide turned lobbyist. “Cruz will.”
In private, some veteran conservative Republicans have been reaching out to Trump. And Trump himself called the ultimate establishment figure in Washington, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, for a talk late last year.
“If it came down to Trump or Cruz, there is no question I’d vote for Trump,” said former New York mayor and 2008 presidential candidate Rudolph W. Giuliani, who has not endorsed a candidate.
“Between Trump and Cruz, it’s not even close,” said Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), a longtime House moderate who has not endorsed a candidate.
Add to those Trent Lott, among others. The Washington Republican elite are willing to go with Donald Trump to preserve their status quo. As Charlie Black says, “You can coach Donald.”