With Donald Trump scoring major victories - particularly Florida - in yesterday’s presidential primaries, Marco Rubio has dropped his White House bid.
Both tycoon Trump and Republican rival Ted Cruz however staged speeches which sounded more like presidential appeals than anything else, with Trump promising to make America a winner again - and Cruz promising to dump Obama’s health care act.
Now, more and more, people are beginning to ask, “What if Trump did become president?”
Trump needs 1,237 delegates to capture the Republication nomination prize but in CNN discussions one commentator suggested it would be be “stupid” for the Republican old guard to try to head off Trump at this stage.
Meanwhile Obama must be wondering where he went wrong after a New York Times article suggested that a speech he made mocking Trump at a correspondents’ dinner in Washington five years ago may have been a factor in driving Trump to seek the nomination.
The NYT report described how Trump arrived at the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner reveling as he mingled with the political luminaries who were there. His host was Lally Weymouth, daughter of Katharine Graham, longtime publisher of The Washington Post.
A short while later, the humiliation started for Trump, said the Times.
In a lighthearted speech Obama chose Trump, then flirting with his own presidential bid, as a punch line.
He lampooned Trump’s gaudy taste in décor. He ridiculed his fixation on false rumours that the president had been born in Kenya. He belittled his reality show, “The Celebrity Apprentice.”
Trump at first had a drawn smile, then gave a game wave of the hand.
“But as the president’s mocking of him continued and people at other tables craned their necks to gauge his reaction, Trump hunched forward with a frozen grimace.” said the Times.
After the dinner ended, Trump quickly left. He was “incredibly gracious and engaged on the way in,” recalled Marcus Brauchli, then the executive editor of The Washington Post, but departed “with maximum efficiency.”
The Times writer suggested that the evening of public abasement, “rather than sending Mr. Trump away, accelerated his ferocious efforts to gain stature within the political world.”
Trump’s desire to be taken seriously has played out over the last several years within a Republican Party that placated and indulged him,said the Times.
The party accepted his money and support, “seemingly not grasping how fervently determined he was to become a major force in American politics.”
In the process, the party bestowed upon Mr. Trump the kind of legitimacy that he craved, which has helped him pursue a credible bid for the presidency.
“Everybody has a little regret there, and everybody read it wrong,” said David Keene, a former chairman of the American Conservative Union, an activist group Trump cultivated. Of Mr. Trump’s rise, Keene said, “It’s almost comical, except it’s liable to end up with him as the nominee.”
In an interview last week, Trump acknowledged that he had encountered many who doubted or dismissed him as a political force before now. “I realised that unless I actually ran, I wouldn’t be taken seriously,” he said. But he denied having been troubled by Obama’s derision.
“I loved that dinner,” Trump said, adding, “I can handle criticism.”
On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton also scored yesterday as she defeated Bernie Sanders to take the Ohio prize.