There’s a parlor game going around among D.C. Republicans: If you had to choose, who would you pick to be the Republican nominee—Donald Trump or Ted Cruz?
It’s a choice that’s becoming increasingly real as establishment Republicans confront the twin terrors atop their presidential field. On Wednesday, I put the question to Trent Lott, the former Senate majority leader from Mississippi who’s now a D.C. lobbyist.
Lott, who has endorsed Ohio Governor John Kasich, hemmed and hawed and coughed. “Uh, Rubio?” he said. Then he answered the question: “You know, to be honest with you, I’d probably pick Trump over Cruz.”
The reason, he said, was Cruz’s violation of Senate niceties. “I’ve watched him in the Senate,” said Lott, whom I was interviewing alongside fellow former Majority Leader Tom Daschle at the 92nd Street Y in New York. Lott and Daschle have co-written a new book, Crisis Point, about the problem of Washington gridlock.
“I’ve watched him stand on the floor of the Senate and call the majority leader a liar,” Lott added. “I don’t know whether he was or he wasn’t—you don’t do that where I’m from. If I’d have been in the Senate, I would have tried to have him removed from the floor of the Senate for inappropriate conduct. You just don’t do that. Are we not still gentlemen, and respectful of each other?”