"Scott was afraid," said Scarborough. "The fact that we now have people on the right who attack people who support Jews or candidates that at are attacking Muslims or Hispanics ... we know how this story ends."
He's right. The governing dynamic of the two Republican presidential primaries conducted since the rise of the tea party movement in 2009/2010 has been the so-called establishment candidates calibrating everything they say and do to avoid angering a base that has shown a willingness to oust incumbents —albeit it at the House and Senate level — who show something less than total fealty to "core" principles.
Romney's eye-rolling position of "self deportation" for undocumented workers during the 2012 campaign was entirely a function of the defensive crouch that Republicans have adopted when dealing with their base. Walker's panoply of positions on immigration — most notably his impossible-to-follow series of answers on whether he believed in birthright citizenship — was a function of that same fear. The hesitancy with which the likes of Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and John Kasich have approached statements made by Donald Trump and Ben Carson about Hispanics and Muslims is more evidence of this trepidation.
There's no question that there exists an element within the Republican base who would react very negatively if, say, Rubio came out and said something like: "These recent comments by Dr. Carson and Donald Trump don't reflect my Republican party. Running for president is a serious business and these comments are irresponsible, at best, and inflammatory at worst. Dr. Carson and Mr. Trump should apologize immediately."
But here are three things we know:
1. Those people will never be for Rubio (or Bush or Kasich) as long as there is a more down-the-line conservative still in the race.
2. There aren't enough hardcore conservatives to choose the nominee.
3. In a general election where Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee, every single one (or the VAST majority) of the people angered by my made-up Rubio comment would be for whoever Republicans nominate.
The biggest mistake politicians make — and they just keep making it election after election! — is trying to hide, hedge or otherwise obfuscate how they feel about certain issues. It never works. Romney's push for self deportation didn't convince any conservatives that he was one of them and it played a major part in him getting just 27 percent of the overall Hispanic vote in November 2012.
The reality of politics — particularly in primaries — is that you are never going to win with 100 percent of the vote. While most politicians are driven by an obsessive need to be liked/affirmed, it is simply impossible to please all (or even most) of the people all (or even most) of the time.
Given that, why not stand up loudly and forcefully for what you believe and see where that gets you, rather than timidly trying to cobble together a non-existent coalition of 80 percent of Republicans? That's the question Bush, Rubio, Kasich, Carly Fiorina and even Chris Christie should be asking themselves today.