Republicans plunged into five stages of grief over Trump’s unstoppable rise

Reactions from GOP leaders to Trumps altitude as presumptive nominee have operated the gamut of refusal, indignation, bargaining, depression and acceptance

Anguished Republicans began cycling through the five stages of heartbreak on Thursday in the wake of what one leading voice of the establishment called Donald Trumps hostile takeover of their party.

The last two party leaders to occupy the White House, George W Bush and George HW Bush, remained in isolation and refusal on Thursday after issuing statements suggesting they would not even acknowledge its next nominee for chairwoman, let alone lend him their support.

President George W Bush does not plan to participate in or comment on the presidential campaign, read a blunt statement from his office that appears to go far beyond mere pique at Trumps treatment of friend Jeb.

Nebraska GOP senator Ben Sasse, meanwhile, moved on to the next stage, voicing the fury felt by many grassroots conservatives outside Washington and calling for a third nominee to emerge as an alternative to Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Why are we confined to these two terrible selections? This is America. If both options stink, we reject them and run bigger. Thats what we do, wrote Sasse in an impassioned open letter that ran viral on Twitter and Facebook.

Others in Congress appear “re ready for” bargaining, a phase of seeking to regain control that psychologists describe as a normal reaction to feelings of helplessness after a loss.

As the presumptive nominee,[ Trump] currently has the opportunity and the obligation to unite our party around our goals, wrote the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, in language that made clear his desire to induce the best of a bad situation.

But Trump has won landslide after landslide among Republican voters by positioning himself as the ultimate political foreigner. There is little evidence he plans to tinker with a winning formula to construct congressional leaders feel better.

Realisation of this fact is leading many figures in the party to sink into depression, particularly as they ponder Trumps historically high negative poll ratings among the general electorate.

Mr Trump may be able to improve his image if he controls his perpetual insult machine, but there is little evidence that he can or will do so, lamented the Wall Street Journal in an editorial that captured the distres of the creation on Thursday. The essence of his politics is personal, and its not obvious he knows any other route.

The newspapers silver lining scenario in the unlikely instance of him winning the general election involves him leaving domestic policy to the grownups, but it describes his foreign policy instincts as far more troubling.

His trade policies are reckless and would either be rebuffed by the world or lead to a global recession, advised the editorial board of the paper, a conservative bellwether known to stay close to the views of its proprietor, Rupert Murdoch.

Murdochs wider business empire might now be willing to dance with Trump on Fox News, but his previous flirtations with Rand Paul, Chris Christie, Marco Rubio and Bush belie annoyance with their failure to inspire voters. Mr Trump wasnt our first choice, or even the 15 th, added the Journal. Dozens of miscalculations induced his hostile takeover possible , not least decisions by other nominees in the early primary states to attack each other instead of Mr Trump.

After denial, anger, bargaining and depression ought to come a final stage of sorrow known as acceptance, but psychologists warn that reaching this stage of mourning is a gift not afforded to everyone.

The price of acceptance, according to moderate Republican figurehead Susan Collins, is for Trump to recognise that all his bluster will come to nought if he cannot win over females like her.

If hes going to build that wall that he maintains talking about, hes going to have to mend a lot of fences. Hes going to have to stop with the gratuitous, personal insults, the Maine senator said in a radio interview on Wednesday.

Hes going to have to go beyond saying he wants to stimulate America great again, she added. Hes going to have to enunciate what a Trump presidency would look like.

The former senator Bob Dole will be listening. On Thursday a representative of the 92 -year-old 1996 nominee told the Guardian: Senator Dole is planning to briefly attend the convention in Cleveland.

The representative would not say if the only former nominees set to travel to Ohio in July would support Trump in his run for the White House.

Well have to wait and see how the convention plays out, the representative said.

It is not the first time the party has risked a split. Republican political activists known as Mugwumps supported Democratic nominee Grover Cleveland in 1884, whose centre-right supporters were also known as Gold Democrat in 1896. The Republican party split again into a so-called Bull Moose wing in 1912.

But rarely have both the creation wing of the party and its ideologically conservative base appeared as uncomfortable as they do at the prospect of uniting behind the notion of presidential nominee Trump, something most acknowledge they will have to do, but few are relishing.

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