Ignore the pundits; this one's going all the way to Cleveland

Don't you just hate it when sports announcers insist "it's over" during a ball game or playoff series when, in fact, the action has only just begun?  Even today, I still remember Howard Cosell and company being particularly guilty of this in the 1979 World Series, where they insisted one team or the other had an insurmountable lead, almost after every inning.

Lots of talking heads, well-known for being wrong, are now doing the same thing proclaiming Donald Trump the nominee even with most of the voting and delegate selection yet to come.  Yet this is looking like one of those years like 1964 or 1976 where the GOP does not rally around the frontrunner and the fight goes all the way to the convention.  I was a toddler in 1964, but I am proud to say I was the Gipper's Youth Co-Chair in my state, and we battled for every delegate.  We just barely missed beating Ford in Kansas City.

This kind of fight is bad news for Trump.  He is a billionaire only in the sense that he probably owes his creditors a billion dollars; that's why he won't release his tax returns.  Without real campaign cash and no organization, we will see how well he can go the distance.  So far, his best victories have come in primaries where Democrats could cross over, like South Carolina, and provide his winning margin.  Good luck with that strategy when the state party activists do their delegate picking.

Trump is also just beginning to feel the real heat from his opponent's "con man" ads.  In the Real Clear Politics polling leading up to Super Tuesday, he was ahead in Virginia by over 14% yet all but tied in the actual voting with Rubio after Marco put up a few days of negative ads there.  Now we have two weeks of scorched-earth TV against Trump and another two debates for the Cuban Tag Team to pummel Trump.

Florida, it is said, is Rubio's "must win."  I would suggest, rather, that it is Trump's.  Florida, even more than New York, is Trump's home turf.  It's where he has his golf courses and his indentured servants.  If Rubio wins, it's all over for Trump. If he just comes close, he can keep going and be the last man standing when we vote the big states – New York, April 19; Pennsylvania, April 26; and California, June 7.  

So Trump people are making all sorts of threats if they aren't handed the nomination right now.  But remember: Reagan lost his first 6 primaries in 1976 amid furious demands from Ford and the liberal media that he quit right there.  Instead, he stayed in the whole way and let the grassroots Republicans across the country decide things.  He almost won, and he put in place the modern conservative movement.  We ought to do the same here.  And if Mr. Trump can't come into Cleveland with the 1,237 delegates needed to win, what does that make him?  A loser.

If he loses the floor fight in Cleveland because party insiders – i.e., the delegates elected under party rules to decide the nomination – don't vote for him, would he then run third party?  Unlikely.  Even if he had millions of his own money to spend on such a vanity project, sore-loser laws and filing deadlines by June make it impossible for Trump to get on a significant number of state ballots.  

So let's play this out to the end, all the way to Cleveland.  It will be a healthy experience for everyone, especially Mr. Trump.  For the first time in his life, he will have to actually work to achieve something – not just have it handed to him by his zillionaire father or his bankruptcy lawyers.

Frank Friday is an attorney in Louisville, Ky.