Our Opinion: Trump raises his campaign flag in Massachusetts

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Donald Trump steamrollered his way to seven victories in 11 Super Tuesday states, but none testified more dramatically to the hold he has on Republican voters than his one-sided win in Massachusetts.

A traditionally liberal to moderate state with little affection for ideologues and demagogues, Massachusetts would seem to have been fertile turf for Ohio Governor John Kasich or Florida Senator Marco Rubio. However, polls indicating that the Manhattan businessman would win the state by a wide margin were confirmed Tuesday when Mr. Trump hauled in 49 percent of the vote, to 18 percent apiece for relative moderates Governor Kasich and Senator Rubio. (Berkshire County, where Mr. Trump won 27 towns, joined in.) Massachusetts climbed aboard the Trump bandwagon of anger, self-pity, divisiveness and preposterous promises.

That poses a dilemma for moderate Republican Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, who partially addressed it Wednesday. The governor sat with The Eagle editorial board last December, and when asked if he would support Mr. Trump should the controversial candidate win his party's presidential nomination, Mr. Baker made it clear he was tired of being asked that question and added that it was irrelevant until votes were taken in primaries and caucuses.

Well, the votes are being taken, Mr. Trump has grabbed a ton of them, and the governor to his dismay is still being asked that question. While Mr. Baker denounced some of Mr. Trump's more outrageously bigoted remarks, the governor still acted with his characteristic excess of caution as Mr. Trump began rolling up wins.

Mr. Baker tried to stay out of the first of the nation New Hampshire primary, but on its eve, he endorsed fellow governor Chris Christie of New Jersey. Mr. Christie proceeded to get swamped in New Hampshire and bailed out of the presidential race, which didn't speak highly of the Massachusetts governor's influence. But then things got worse.

Rather than head back to work in New Jersey, Governor Christie quickly turned up in the Trump camp. Savagely critical of some of Mr. Trump's inflammatory statements about banning Muslims and building walls on the border, the governor had to awkwardly duck journalists' questions about how he could abandon his concerns and endorse Mr. Trump.

The governor looked like Mr. Trump's security muscle as he awkwardly stood behind the candidate at his former rival's Tuesday night press conference. The Manchester Union Leader in New Hampshire has apologized for its endorsement of Governor Christie and six New Jersey newspapers have called on him to resign. Governor Baker should have joined them in upbraiding Mr. Christie for his cravenness but he did not.

Wednesday, however, the governor found his voice and answered the question he didn't answer at The Eagle. Mr. Baker told reporters that he doesn't plan to vote for Mr. Trump in November should he be the nominee, which is welcome. However, Mr. Baker must emphatically disavow Mr. Trump's campaign of hate and bigotry.

In a taut race that was not declared until late in the evening, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton narrowly denied Senator Bernie Sanders a victory in the Democratic primary in Massachusetts. Progressive Berkshire voters went solidly for Mr. Sanders, giving their Vermont neighbor wins in 24 of 30 towns.

Massachusetts was the only close Democratic race of the 11 Tuesday, with Secretary Clinton winning seven. Mr. Sanders faces tough odds ahead, but his continuing presence in a tough but civil campaign will benefit American voters. That campaign serves as a dramatic contrast to what is essentially a three-way Republican race characterized by schoolyard insults, unrealistic pledges, ignorance about how government works, and intolerance to differing views, the latter of which is counter to what America stands for.


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