At The New York Times, Alexadner Burns, Maggie Haberman, and Jonathan Martin report on a February 19 luncheon of GOP goveror and contributors at which Karl Rove urged an effort to stop Trump.
At a meeting of Republican governors the next morning, Paul R. LePage of Maine called for action. Seated at a long boardroom table at the Willard Hotel, he erupted in frustration over the state of the 2016 race, saying Mr. Trump’s nomination would deeply wound the Republican Party. Mr. LePage urged the governors to draft an open letter “to the people,” disavowing Mr. Trump and his divisive brand of politics.
The suggestion was not taken up. Since then, Mr. Trump has only gotten stronger, winning two more state contests and collecting the endorsement of Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey.
Despite all the forces arrayed against Mr. Trump, the interviews show, the party has been gripped by a nearly incapacitating leadership vacuum and a paralytic sense of indecision and despair, as he has won smashing victories in South Carolina and Nevada. Donors have dreaded the consequences of clashing with Mr. Trump directly. Elected officials have balked at attacking him out of concern that they might unintentionally fuel his populist revolt. And Republicans have lacked someone from outside the presidential race who could help set the terms of debate from afar.
Fred Malek, the finance chairman of the Republican Governors Association, said the party’s mainstream had simply run up against the limits of its influence.
“There’s no single leader and no single institution that can bring a diverse group called the Republican Party together, behind a single candidate,” Mr. Malek said. “It just doesn’t exist.”
On Friday, a few hours after Mr. Christie endorsed him, Mr. Trump collected support from a second governor, who in a radio interview said Mr. Trump could be “one of the greatest presidents.”
That governor was Paul LePage.