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Establishment Rallying to Trump? Live Results from Iowa – HotAir

As this post goes live, brave voters have just begun to caucus after suffering through the polar vortex in Iowa. Who will they choose as the Republican nominee? Perhaps some sense of that may come from the people falling into line behind former president Donald Trump. Doug Burgum jumped into the race as an alternative to Trump, but yesterday rallied behind him:

“I’m here to do something that none of the other presidential primary candidates have done and that’s endorse Donald J. Trump for the president of the United States of America” Burgum said at a Trump rally in Iowa Sunday.

The endorsement gives Trump additional tailwinds as he heads into Monday’s Iowa caucuses. Polls show he is leading the Republican primary field by more than 30 percentage points.

And perhaps more pointedly, Marco Rubio announced his endorsement an hour or so later, a blow to fellow Floridian Ron DeSantis:

“I support Trump because that kind of leadership is the ONLY way we will get the extraordinary actions needed to fix the disaster Biden has created,” Rubio wrote. “It’s time to get on with the work of beating Biden & saving America!”

Rubio’s endorsement is a big get for Trump, especially as he continues to try to big foot DeSantis in the state they both call home. Trump already received the endorsement of U.S. Sen. Rick Scott in November.

This is, ah, quite a turnaround for Rubio, as a number of people pointed out yesterday on Twitter. This is from 2016, I believe, so consider it in that context:

Eight years ago, it took “Little Marco” Rubio (Trump’s epithet) until March 15th to withdraw from the primaries. This time, he’s essentially arguing that the primaries are already over even before a single vote gets cast, either in caucus or by ballot. It might have had a different meaning a month or two ago as just a normal endorsement, but coming as it did a day before the first electoral event of the season, it feels very much like an attack on his former ally DeSantis.

That doesn’t make Rubio wrong, however, even if it does feel a bit like bandwagoning. And Rubio’s endorsement suggests something else, too, because Rubio’s not exactly MAGA. His foreign-policy outlook is closer to Nikki Haley than Trump, and his positioning in the Senate more establishment than, say, Josh Hawley or Mike Lee. Is this a signal by the GOP establishment that they have made their peace with a Trump Restoration? Burgum’s endorsement might be a more subtle indicator of this potential signal. And if so, will they want Haley on the ticket with Trump as a condition of party unity?

The latest NBC poll in Iowa suggests why Trump might be open to the idea, too:

Most likely Republican Iowa caucusgoers say they’ll vote for former President Donald Trump in the general election if he’s the GOP nominee, regardless of the candidate they’re supporting on caucus night.

That is, except supporters of former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, with nearly half of them — 43% — saying they’d vote for Democratic President Joe Biden over Trump.

Havaing Haley as a running mate would instantly expand the reach of the GOP ticket. The questions would be whether Trump wants to have another running mate from the establishment side of the party — and whether Haley would do it at all. The first is iffy, but Haley has seemed to campaign for the #2 slot over the past several months.

Stay tuned, because it won’t take long to see how Iowa caucus-goers see the immediate future of the GOP. All of the polling shows Trump waaaay out in front of both DeSantis and Haley, but anything can happen in a bad-weather caucus. We have the live reporting on caucus results below from our partners at Decision Desk:

Stay tuned for updates as the evening rolls along. The big question will be less about whether Trump wins and more about how wide the margin will be. If DeSantis drops to third, as some polls show, the next question will be whether he lasts to the Super Tuesday in March, or drops out faster than Rubio did in 2016.

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