Reports are starting to trickle up that a lot of Republican heavy hitters are getting ready to dump Donald Trump at the Republican National Convention next month. An anti-Trumper is already head of the rules committee, which might vote to unbind the delegates. No longer being obligated to vote for Trump on the first ballot, the delegates will be free to vote for someone else.

The Trump fan base, while diminished over the past few weeks thanks to the candidate’s missteps, would not be pleased if a backroom deal denies their guy the nomination. However, the plan may be to arrange for things in advance and present the matter to Trump as a fait accompli.

He would then be given the choice of withdrawing gracefully, perhaps for the good of the country and the party. Maybe the deal will be sweetened in some manner. That way Trump’s supporters will not be quite as agitated at what might otherwise be an ugly spectacle of their guy being dragged off kicking and screaming.

The question that next arises is who gets chosen to replace him. (Hint: Ted Cruz might want to put contingency plans into place to get the campaign rolling again and do some backroom wheeling and dealing of his own.)

The temptation would be for the Republican establishment to install a “safe” candidate such as Jeb Bush or Mitt Romney. That would be a serious blunder. As compromised as Trump has made himself, the voters are still in the mood for an outsider to go to the White House and shake things up.

For better or for ill, that person in Ted Cruz. The Republican establishment may not like him, but next to Trump, he is the soul of propriety and sanity. He also has the skills and discipline necessary to take the fight to Hillary Clinton.

Besides, with all of that opposition research the Democrats have been doing and all the hundreds of millions that they are prepared to spend on the mother of media assaults, wouldn’t be such a shame if Hillary’s preferred target was let go to brood about what might have been back in the penthouse of the Trump Tower?

It has been a weird election year, and it is likely to get weirder.

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