Mainstream Republicans have tried for the past several years to keep their system together by bringing lawmakers elected as disrupters into the fold rather than pushing them aside. It’s a strategy that succeeded in winning the party the House in 2010 and the Senate in 2014, but it did little to achieve such conservative goals as overturning President Barack Obama’s health care law or blocking increases in the nation’s debt ceiling.
Now, the GOP system is cracking, leaving some in the establishment feeling they would be the outsiders in a party helmed by Trump — or by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, a frequent tormentor of Republican leaders who is a strong contender for the nomination.
"I thought I was a traditional Republican conservative," says Bob Dole, the 1996 Republican presidential nominee who represented deep red Kansas in Congress for decades.
Dole has been an especially vocal critic of Cruz, who has blamed Republican failures in presidential contests on the party’s tendency to elect mainstream candidates like the longtime Kansas senator. However, Dole suggested in an interview Wednesday that he might be able to make peace with a Trump presidency, saying the businessman’s reputation as a "dealmaker" could mean he’s able to work with Congress.