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Former Governors Forge Different Paths In Quest To Defeat Trump


Republicans who want to stop Donald Trump won a victory yesterday. They backed Ted Cruz in Utah, and Cruz won that state's caucuses. Trump, however, won a bigger prize in the Arizona primary and moved closer to his party's nomination. Former Utah Governor Mike Leavitt has been watching all of this. He supports John Kasich, by the way, who was shut out yesterday.

Governor, welcome back to the program.

MIKE LEAVITT: Thank you Steve.

INSKEEP: What do you make of the results?

LEAVITT: I believe that the convention can - rather, the party continues to move toward a contested convention. I think it's not at absolute certainty, but I think it's more probable this morning than it was last night.

INSKEEP: Meaning you think nobody will end up with a majority of delegates - it would be Trump, Cruz and Kasich and scattered others with a few delegates even though they've suspended their campaigns, and they'd all fight it out?

LEAVITT: That's what I believe will occur. Incidentally, it's happened ten other times in American history so it's not without precedent, but it will certainly be unusual in the context of the current day.

INSKEEP: And do you believe that it is possible that Trump, after winning primary after primary after primary - not with majorities, but with pluralities of the vote - that he could be denied the nomination on the floor?

LEAVITT: In Cleveland, a candidate will be required to achieve 1,237 delegates. Historically, when a candidate does not get that prior to the convention and they go into the convention with others still contending, 70 percent of the time, others get the nomination and typically that's because there's a great deal of animus that - or at least anxiety about the other candidate - or, about the leading candidate. And hence people begin to unify. There've been a number of times in history when they couldn't unify around the number two, and the number three ultimately got the nod. But that - a lot can happen in a convention. There's a unique form of sociality that takes place there - the sociology, rather. And we'll see.

INSKEEP: It's interesting because it would be the interaction of delegates if it were a convention of the sort that happened generations ago but has not happened in many decades. You mentioned the anxiety about Donald Trump or the animus toward Donald Trump. What do you make of his continued support among so many voters, given the sheer volume of people who've spoken against him?

LEAVITT: I think that is the big story on the election this year. There've always been big personalities in politics - perhaps none quite so big in recent years as Donald Trump, but there is clearly a sense of worry that Donald Trump is - has a temperament that is disquieting to a very large percentage of Americans. He appears to be somewhat amateurish in his foreign policy expressions and he certainly speaks from the hip - things that typically presidents don't. Some people like that, but those who have been involved in government know that there's a reason why that has to be done and ultimately why it produces the best result.

INSKEEP: Governor, thanks very much for your time, really appreciate it.

LEAVITT: Thank you.

INSKEEP: Mike Leavitt served in the cabinet of George W. Bush as president. He's also the three-time elected past governor of the state of Utah. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Corrected: March 22, 2016 at 11:00 PM CDT
The original headline and text for this story incorrectly described Mitt Romney as a former governor of Utah. Romney was governor of Massachusetts.