With time running out until the first primary votes are cast, establishment Republicans have begun a ferocious round of finger-pointing over who is to blame for the party's failure to stop Donald Trump.
The chiding, once limited to private conversations, is now erupting in public view — with campaigns, operatives, donors, party officials and conservative intellectuals arguing over why something hasn't been done to stop the man who has been leading nearly every state and national poll since August. Trump, many in the GOP's upper ranks are convinced, would lead the Republican Party to an epic defeat in November, with consequences all the way down the ballot.
"This whole thing is a disaster," said Curt Anderson, a former Republican National Committee political director and veteran operative. "I think I'll write a book about it."
Receiving much of the blame is Right to Rise, the cash-flush super PAC that broke records when it announced last year that it had raised more than $100 million in support of Jeb Bush. The group has directed relatively little of that sum toward attacking Trump — instead focusing its efforts on taking down Bush's establishment rivals, above all Marco Rubio. To date, the group has spent about $5 million on TV commercials going after Trump, while dropping four times as much in negative ads against Rubio. The latest spot, which came Tuesday, hammered Rubio over his messy financial history.
Right to Rise, with its nearly limitless resources, had the best chance to wage a concerted campaign to take down the real estate mogul, many are convinced — and they blame Mike Murphy, the group's chief strategist, for missing the opportunity. While Bush often personally went after Trump on the campaign trail and in debates — even calling him a "jerk" and then cutting an ad about it — his super PAC usually hasn't.