Tuesday, December 12th, 2017

The Trump
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Trump Approval

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US Direction

Trump Won It, But Cruz Really Lost It

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I may have been wrong in the past about Donald Trump but I never quite got Ted Cruz as a candidate for President. He has had too short a tenure and too few friends in the Senate to be able to run credibly for President but for a while he was the supposed darling of "real conservatives". But then came Donald Trump and he stole any of the thunder Cruz supposedly had.

And for a while Cruz served as the highly unlikely firewall for the GOP's establishment wing to prevent a Trump nomination. But that was as short-lived as the passion that fueled it. Cruz's supporters were very underwhelmed by his status as the party's savior.

Trump won Indiana by a huge margin. Everything Cruz tried to do in the final weeks of his campaign went wrong. First, there was the most uncomfortable "alliance" with Ohio Governor John Kasich. Yes, they apparently agreed on a Sunday night that Kasich would bow out of the Indiana campaign, while Cruz would cede other states to Kasich. But by the following morning that grand coalition fell apart as Cruz implied that Kasich had really dropped out and Kasich said he never meant that Indianans should not vote for him. So what was the alliance?

Then there was the hyped media event about his choice of Carly Fiorina as his "runningmate". Fiorina was indeed impressive in some early debates but she brought no additional supporters, no base in Indiana, and only one delegate to the mix. As a strategy, the Fiorina choice like the Kasich gambit, was too little and way too late. And, above all, it looked desperate because that was what it was.

Finally, Cruz - who had only kindness for Trump in the early days of his campaign - simply came undone. He looked and sounded unhinged. He had enabled Trump early on and never learned that no one can ever get down low in the trenches with The Donald. Just when you think that things have hit rock bottom, he is standing there with a jackhammer telling America he can go lower. When it was Cruz' turn to take on the lowest of lowball politics, Cruz had not learned any lessons from Lindsey Graham, Marco Rubio, and Jeb Bush - candidates that tried to take on Trump head to head with nastiness. They failed and they hurt their own brand in the process. At least Cruz has a job to go back to - but arguably he goes back to the Senate with the same number of friends and loving colleagues with which he began.

Trump won it, he is on the road to the GOP nomination. Cruz ended his campaign as angry and as flailing as his many of his supporters appear to be. Trump has defied all the rules. He has gone further than any conventional wisdom might have suggested. But now where does he find his winning coalition? Are all these slain candidates going to share the dais in Cleveland with him?

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