Theories concerning the Ted Cruz convention speech...
By John F. Di Leo -
As I see it, there are only three possible reasons for the Trump campaign to have done what they did at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland on Wednesday night - whipping up their delegations to heckle Senator Cruz during his speech, attacking him relentlessly thereafter, etc. - just because he gave a great speech that didn't include the words "I endorse The Donald."
(Yes, it WAS a great speech. Most of it, in fact, was a terrific “convention hall barn-burner,” as we say in politics).
1) The Trump family and campaign really hate Cruz even more than they want to win the election, and they want him to pay for refusing to kiss Donny's ring. “Damn the torpedoes; nobody gets away with being independent, now that we run the party!!!”… or something along those lines.
2) The Trump family and campaign (to the extent that there’s a line separating the two) just don't know how politics works, so they just don't understand that politics is mostly the work of volunteers, so you must always be grateful and gracious to your side. The Trump folks just don't “get” that, so they think that, as bosses, they have the right to attack and drive out anyone who disobeys them. Anyone. Ted Cruz' supporters are also fair game, because anyone who sided with Ted rather than Donald, in and after this Wednesday night idiocy, deserves to be punished too. “You Are Not Following Your Orders! How Dare You?!”
Just speaking for myself, I must admit that I was sure at first that it was option one. I no longer think that. There would have been too many advisors telling Trump to lay off.... too many saying "we've gone too far here, let's not talk about it anymore. We have bigger issues to get out there…" And yet, it seems, nobody has stopped them from launching Cruz attacks. They're still beating up on Ted today, two days later, with a million other issues of higher importance out there.
There's just no reason for that, when there's so much else to talk about in the campaign. Right?
I do think there's a good deal of option two involved.... but not from the top. Trump supporters include a heck of a lot of people who are newcomers to politics, and think that everyone MUST rally behind the party's nominee. They believe you have no right to disobey your boss.
These newbies just don't understand: voters and supporters are all volunteers, and we don't HAVE to support their guy if, in our opinion, he doesn't deserve it. A political candidate has to earn his volunteers' support EVERY DAY, or they'll find something else to do with their time.
So… options one and two are out. What's option 3?
3) I think it's most likely that the Trump organization does NOT hate Ted much more than they hate anyone else... but the Trump organization has made an intentional, thoroughly conscious strategic decision for political reasons.
The more I think about it, the more I believe this is the likely answer:
The Trump campaign does want to win... so they've used focus groups or something to ask "what do people who don’t vote Republican hate about Republicans?" and the answer they got back (right or wrong) was "the extremist Christian conservatives." You know. All those alleged white extremist bigots who don’t really exist, and to the extent that they do, aren’t Republican… but who the Democrats and the MSM have CONVINCED the country do indeed form the bulk of the GOP.
My current guess about the Trump campaign is that they think the winning route is to NOT be a unifier, but rather, to visibly say "we are not the party of the Christian conservatives you hate - all those nasty extremists who talk about the Constitution all the time. We are, rather, your kind of people, who just want to fix this mess and throw out the crooks and the foreigners, and stop people from stealing our jobs."
I'm not saying I agree with them, just that this feels most logical to me at this stage… that the Trump campaign believes that the reason that past moderate Republicans have lost the American middle is that they tried to keep the Right on board and didn't publicly disown it.
By publicly disowning the Right, in a way that Ford, Dole, McCain and Romney never did… using Ted Cruz as proxy for that act, the Trump campaign thinks that all the independents who naturally can't stand Hillary will feel free to support Trump, because they now WON'T be allying with "the extremist Right-supported candidate."
How does that square with the choice of Mike Pence as running-mate, a man whose record reads like a milder, less confrontational, midwestern version of Ted Cruz himself? Well, that's their insurance.
The middle, they reason, knows and hates Ted, so let's disown him. The middle doesn't know Pence, but likes him, so let's ally with him.
On the other hand, the right likes Ted, but also loves Pence, so we won’t really lose that many of his supporters; they’ll stick with us, in the end, because we have Mike Pence on the ticket.
So the Trump campaign –if my guess is right – believes they can indeed win the entire middle and lose very little of the Right.
It's a kit, you see. The Trump campaign includes four key parts:
- A) The popular Donald Trump persona
- B) The disowning of Ted Cruz
- C) The alliance with Mike Pence
- D) The hatred of Hillary Clinton and the disastrous Barack Obama years
All four pillars are necessary for their theory to work. They think that Cruz supporters will support Trump because of Pence, but Cruz haters will support Trump because Trump was so vicious to Cruz. It’s a very risky way to attempt to square the circle…. If it’s correct.
None of this would have a chance if the Democrats weren't nominating someone as universally hated as Hillary Clinton. But so far, unless the Democrats surprise us at the convention or later, it looks like this might be the year in which this unusual package is possible.
Personal Disclaimer: I happen to really dislike both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, Gentle Reader, and I really love both Ted Cruz and Mike Pence. I am therefore not going to get into whether I think this approach is moral or even likely to be successful.
I'm just theorizing here, and I could be completely wrong.
Something just tells me that this is the story behind the week.
Now, if the Trump camp really is thinking this way, then I'd have to at least give them credit for thinking it through, and coming up with a novel way of attempting to manage these very challenging demographics.
Then again, maybe I’m giving them too much credit for strategy. After all, nothing else this year has made sense. Why should this?
Copyright 2016 John F. Di Leo
John F. Di Leo is a Chicagoan, a trade compliance trainer, actor, writer, and recovering politician.
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