Support Ted Cruz for free trade

Power struggle with the Republicans: whoever laughs last ...

DW: Mr. Thimm, the two Republican candidates Ted Cruz and John Kasich have teamed up against Donald Trump. Their strategy: To prevent Trump from winning more than 1,237 delegate votes, Kasich wants to withdraw from the Indiana primary, while Cruz will skip the Oregon and New Mexico primary. It seems like many established rules will be overridden in these US primaries. Why is that?

Johannes Thimm: On the one hand, Trump is a unique candidate in many ways. He was extremely successful in leveraging his brand and generating media coverage. Airtime, which other candidates have to buy dearly by switching TV advertisements, he got practically for free. The news has already reported so much about him anyway - because of his celebrity factor - but also because of the positive and negative fascination that he exerts.

The second factor is that the Republican candidates have dumped each other. I think Jeb Bush stayed in the race way too long. Had he quit earlier, Marco Rubio might have managed to establish himself as an alternative capable of reaching a consensus. Ted Cruz, on the other hand, had long urged John Kasich to drop out of the race. As long as there is Trump and the rest - and the rest are fighting each other - Trump can only benefit from it.

Political scientist Johannes Thimm from SWP

A candidacy for Trump in the presidential election against a Democratic candidate on November 8th would be "a sure disaster," said Ted Cruz's campaign management team. Is this panic-mongering justified?

A candidate Trump's chances of winning the Republican presidential election do not look good. Surveys that put different candidates against each other in hypothetical scenarios show that Trump would lose significantly against Hillary Clinton. Republicans also worry that because of Trump, few people will vote. They fear that Trump is not mobilizing the Republican base enough.

Why do Republicans doubt Trump's electoral success when he is so strong in the primaries?

You have to realize that even so, only about a third of Republican voters support Trump and two thirds of Republicans are against Trump. Due to his unconventionality, Trump appears spontaneously and speaks as he has got the better of it. That can also be harmful. He contradicts himself, has no consistent position at all on many issues, or deviates from traditional republican positions.

Isn't he so popular because of his unconventional demeanor and anti-politician gesture?

There is a very clear split here: Trump's supporters are enthusiastic because he positions himself against the establishment. But very conservative, ideologically consistent Republicans reject it because it is not consistently conservative. The business-friendly elite do not support him, for example, because he is against free trade. He cannot get at minorities at all because he has already insulted them all. The Latino community will vote largely democratically because of Trump's migration policy. You will remember his famous phrase that Mexicans are all criminals and rapists. With such positions on various issues, he has in principle alienated large parts of the republican base.

Wouldn't it still be grist to the mill of those who are indignant about the establishment if a candidate is refined at a party congress instead of taking into account the will of the electorate?

One can take the position that the one with the best primary results should become a candidate for the presidency. But you can also ask yourself whether someone who has two-thirds of your own party against you is the right candidate. Perhaps more importantly, Trump is a little crazy and says things that are dangerous. But he also represents positions that are widespread among Americans. For example, he rejects free trade or addresses the loss of jobs, which has hit the white middle class in particular in recent years. The question is, will Republicans do themselves a long-term favor by ignoring this?

The populist and Republican Donald Trump divides minds

Who does the tactical move of a merger bring more - Cruz or Kasich?

I don't dare to make a prognosis. First of all, you might think that Ted Cruz has the greatest follow-up claim because he is, so to speak, the second strongest candidate. At the same time, he is also extremely unpopular in the party. It could actually be that Kasich emerges as a laughing third from the vote at the party conference in Cleveland - or a completely different candidate is pulled out of the hat.

Dr. Johannes Thimm is head of the America research group at the Foundation for Science and Politics in Berlin.

The interview was conducted by Nina Niebergall.