Donald Trump speaks at last night's Republican debate. Credit: AP Photo/Carlos Osorio

Republicans will stop at nothing to stop Donald Trump. They’ve pulled a maneuver out of their playbook they haven’t used in years. It’s like a Superbowl quarterback facing fourth and 20 at his own 5-yard-line and scratching the Statue of Liberty play into the dirt.

“This is the party of Lincoln,” said House speaker Paul Ryan. “We believe all people are created equal in the eyes of God.” 

“This is the party of Abraham Lincoln. This is not the party of David Duke, Donald Trump,” said Nebraska senator Ben Sasse. “This party needs to return to its principles.” 

And MSNBC host Joe Scarborough, a former Republican congressman, ripped Trump in a Washington Post op-ed and wondered, “Is this how the party of Abraham Lincoln dies?”

In past elections, Republican roots as the party of Lincoln was something that only Democrats making mischief would ever bring up. But these are desperate times.