Major General Rubio.
My dear Sir.
Your dispatches complaining that you are not properly sustained, while they do not offend me, do pain me very much.
After you left, I ascertained that only a handful of your advertisements will be against Gen. Trump, as you continue your focus on combating Gen. Cruz. My explicit order that Trump should be destroyed had been neglected. It was precisely this that drove me to write.
I do not forget that I was satisfied with your arrangement to ignore Trump while dealing with General Bush’s loyalists–and his indefatigable cavalry units led by Col. Murphy–in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. But now that Murphy and Bush have been beaten, of course I am not satisfied. And now allow me to ask “Do you really think I should permit the road to Cleveland to be entirely open to Trump’s volunteers, except what resistance could be presented by a few poorly-funded Super PACs?” This is a question which the country will not allow me to evade.
Indeed, there is a curious mystery about the number of opponents now facing you. When I telegraphed you in December. saying that you had some critical endorsements from senators, including Mr. Gardner and Mr. Daines, you noted that you had a dozen rivals and were facing attacks from all sides, such that attacking Trump was not feasible. Yet now, you are facing three fringe candidates and have the entire party establishment behind you. Why do you hesitate?
Field Marshal Romney is not going to provide aide. He is saving his powder for his third party turn. I suppose the whole force which has gone forward for you, is with you by this time; and if so, I think it is the precise time for you to strike a blow. By delay the enemy will relatively gain upon you — that is, he will gain faster, by winning states, than you can by proportional strong-showings alone.
And once more let me tell you, it is indispensable to you that you strike a blow. I am powerless to help this. You will do me the justice to remember I always insisted, that arguing about electability was only shifting, and not surmounting, a difficulty — that we would find the same enemy, and the same, or equal, public support, at either place. Electability will not change the minds of people who contemplate the destruction of our movement. Nor will a focus on decorum. Only a concerted effort to focus on his personal deficiencies–his business failures, his destruction of lives–can turn the tide. Conservatives will not fail to note — are now noting — that the present hesitation to move beyond stale talking points, is but the story of New Hampshire repeated.
I beg to assure you that I have never written you, or spoken to you, in greater kindness of feeling than now, nor with a fuller purpose to sustain you, so far as in my most anxious judgment, I consistently can. But you must act. Yours very truly
(Note from the author: I’m working on a weekly podcast about Abraham Lincoln with an old friend from high school. When you’re doing a podcast that requires a lot of research, everything you run into everywhere seems to remind you of it. So, I thought about a famous letter from Lincoln to General George B. McClellan, and I figured it was due for a bit of an update.)
Image from the Library of Congress