How Trump Turned Cruz into the Establishment Candidate

 

Donald Trump NYDonald Trump’s landslide victory in the New York GOP primary was a game-changer. It ended his Wisconsin slump and set the stage for an across-the-board sweep next Tuesday in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Connecticut, and Rhode Island.

Trump’s vote count exceeded his pre-primary polling average by nearly 10 percentage points. Perhaps most important, the win gave him 89 more delegates for the RNC July convention.

So Trump is now the prohibitive favorite to win the GOP nomination — although there is still much dispute about this. But I believe, even if he comes up short of a majority 1,237 delegates, he will still get a first-ballot victory. There will be roughly 190 uncommitted delegates at the Cleveland convention. And Trump, with his art of the deal, can be very persuasive.

But what hasn’t gotten enough attention following New York is how Trump did it, and how it will enhance his position in the rest of the primaries. My theory is this: Trump cleverly turned the tables against Ted Cruz in regard to the nationwide delegate fight, especially in Colorado. Trump outflanked Cruz.

By calling the delegate-selection process “rigged,” and arguing that Colorado had an election without voters, Trump turned a loss into a victory. Why? Because he put Cruz in the unenviable position of defending the status quo delegate-selection process.

Now, Cruz played by the rules in Colorado and elsewhere. And Trump was caught flat-footed, and to some extent was embarrassed by his own weak delegate-gathering team.

However, and this is the key point, Cruz argued time and again that the rules were the rules and that he simply played by them. And as Trump continuously attacked the RNC rules as being undemocratic, disenfranchising to voters, and creatures of out-of-touch Republican-party regulars, he put Cruz in the position of backing the establishment. A bad place for Cruz.

Moreover, in attacking the delegate process, Trump was able to restore and even enhance his position as the anti-establishment outsider. The agent of change. That’s precisely what GOP voters favor.

Now, Colorado was a bad delegate story to begin with. A planned direct primary vote was cancelled. But a friend relates the disturbing story of his moderate Republican brother who owns a small railroad and who caucused for Trump. Trump won that local caucus by 60 percent. But as the process moved up to the county level, then the congressional district level, and finally the state level, Trump got zero delegates.

At a minimum, this process was wacky, convoluted, and opaque. At its worst, it was rigged against GOP voters.

Other states have produced similar horror stories. And Pennsylvania may be positioned to deliver the most ridiculous. Whoever wins the direct Pennsylvania primary next Tuesday gets only 17 out of 71 delegates. So no matter who wins, 50-something delegates will still be uncommitted. That’s crazy.

Actually, I think the whole GOP selection process is crazy. Why not a simple, direct, winner-take-all primary election? The person with the most votes gets all the delegates. Nice and simple.

RNC chair Reince Priebus might want to think about this progressive democratic reform. After 100 years or so, it’s time for a change.

But back to the Trump New York win. Trump trashed the current delegate system while Cruz defended it. It was bad politics for Mr. Cruz.

And Trump expanded his critique into a full-blown issues platform. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, five days before the New York primary, Trump argued that the old order, the governing elite, the establishment, and the special-interest donors, consultants, pollsters, and pundits are the same people “who were wrong on taxes, on the size of government, on trade, on immigration, on foreign policy.”

In very clear terms Trump connected Cruz with exactly those establishmentarian elites who have bred so much anger and resentment in Republicans everywhere.

Trump completely outflanked Cruz while turning a process issue into a policy issue. The more Cruz defended the delegate process, the more Trump hammered away at his new theme that Cruz is defending the elite old order. In that Journal op-ed, Trump charged that Cruz is actually a member of the very “Washington cartel” that Cruz criticizes.

And like other state primaries, the New York exit polls showed that 88 percent of voters were either dissatisfied or angry at government, while 64 percent wanted a president who was outside the political establishment.

Much of this may be unfair to Cruz’s issue positions and beliefs. But the distinguished senator, in his defense of the status quo delegate process, made a serious strategic error. Heading into yet another Super Tuesday, Trump is making sure that the Cruz error is compounded and magnified.

By turning delegate caucus defeats into an overall message victory, Trump has given himself a yuge leg up for the GOP nomination.

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  1. Pete Inactive
    Pete
    @petermdaniels

    Has anybody bragged more that he can cut deals with “the establishment” than Trump?

    • #1
  2. Josh Farnsworth Member
    Josh Farnsworth
    @

    Mr. Kudlow,

    Thank you for paraphrasing Trump’s talking points.  The important issues in this election are not related, not even remotely, to how the GOP selects its nominee.  The issues are – what candidate is best able to jump start the economy, secure peace through strength, and restore the principles of the constitution that our current President has violated?  That candidate is Ted Cruz.

    Trump raises the issue to create a false narrative.  As Ted Cruz has stated repeatedly, in the weeks just before New York, 1.3 million people in five states voted for Ted Cruz, giving Ted Cruz five consecutive victories heading into New York.

    Please consider for a moment why you are apologizing for Trump and repackaging his talking points.  What about Trump do you find appealing?  Certainly not his economic proposals, I hope.

    Have a wonderful evening,

    Josh Farnsworth

    • #2
  3. Brad2971 Member
    Brad2971
    @

    Josh Farnsworth:Mr. Kudlow,

    Thank you for paraphrasing Trump’s talking points. The important issues in this election are not related, not even remotely, to how the GOP selects its nominee. The issues are – what candidate is best able to jump start the economy, secure peace through strength, and restore the principles of the constitution that our current President has violated? That candidate is Ted Cruz.

    Trump raises the issue to create a false narrative. As Ted Cruz has stated repeatedly, in the weeks just before New York, 1.3 million people in five states voted for Ted Cruz, giving Ted Cruz five consecutive victories heading into New York.

    Please consider for a moment why you are apologizing for Trump and repackaging his talking points. What about Trump do you find appealing? Certainly not his economic proposals, I hope.

    Have a wonderful evening,

    Josh Farnsworth

    While I will not presume to speak for Larry Kudlow, I would submit to you that the next poll that shows which candidate relates to the public will have Trump with a sizeable lead over Hillary. Trump, for being a billionaire, has shown himself to be quite the Everyman.

    • #3
  4. Josh Farnsworth Member
    Josh Farnsworth
    @

    Brad2971:

    Josh Farnsworth:Mr. Kudlow,

    Thank you for paraphrasing Trump’s talking points. The important issues in this election are not related, not even remotely, to how the GOP selects its nominee. The issues are – what candidate is best able to jump start the economy, secure peace through strength, and restore the principles of the constitution that our current President has violated? That candidate is Ted Cruz.

    Trump raises the issue to create a false narrative. As Ted Cruz has stated repeatedly, in the weeks just before New York, 1.3 million people in five states voted for Ted Cruz, giving Ted Cruz five consecutive victories heading into New York.

    Please consider for a moment why you are apologizing for Trump and repackaging his talking points. What about Trump do you find appealing? Certainly not his economic proposals, I hope.

    Have a wonderful evening,

    Josh Farnsworth

    While I will not presume to speak for Larry Kudlow, I would submit to you that the next poll that shows which candidate relates to the public will have Trump with a sizeable lead over Hillary. Trump, for being a billionaire, has shown himself to be quite the Everyman.

    And Everyman apparently supports tyranny, along with Mr. Kudlow.  A very sad day for America.

    • #4
  5. TKC1101 Inactive
    TKC1101
    @TKC1101

    Nice job Larry. A decent summary of the game so far. The irony will be when Trump becomes the new establishment candidate at the convention.

    But then we get to see who declares themselves to be “New Establishmentarians”

    I predict a seven hour hunger strike at National Review when they refuse to have lattes until they get their way.

    Please take Treasury, Larry.

    • #5
  6. Nerina Bellinger Inactive
    Nerina Bellinger
    @NerinaBellinger

    Well, I guess if having a whiny self-proclaimed billionaire who manages to be both a bully and a baby is someone with whom a majority of New Yorkers identify, then the Left has done it’s job far more thoroughly and successfully than we feared. This New Yorker finds Trump  disingenuous, at best, and duplicitous, at worst.  And, no, TKC, I won’t be lamenting over a latte with a Trump victory, but mourning a once great political party.

    • #6
  7. EThompson Inactive
    EThompson
    @EThompson

    I heard it through the grapevine that you’d support a Trump/Kasich ticket with Cruz on the Supreme Court.

    I think you stole my idea!

    • #7
  8. Nerina Bellinger Inactive
    Nerina Bellinger
    @NerinaBellinger

    And add Larry Kudlow to the ever growing list of Trump apologists.  Well, if nothing else, Trump is a political Rorschach test for conservatives.

    • #8
  9. EThompson Inactive
    EThompson
    @EThompson

    Pete:Has anybody bragged more that he can cut deals with “the establishment” than Trump?

    No, and with good reason.

    • #9
  10. Herbert Inactive
    Herbert
    @Herbert

    I’m in the neverTrump camp,  but I think Larry has the political optics right.  Cruz will have to start kissing up to the establishment to a greater degree than Trump (and trump will still have Preibus as his whipping boy).

    • #10
  11. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    All of this, though it may be true seems completely irrelevant to the fact that Trump once he squirms his way to the nomination will loose, and loose badly in the general. Winning the Republican nomination will not all of a sudden make Trump into a less repulsive politician.

    On Tuesday I heard Guiliani brag to Hannity about Trump managing to win both New York and Mississippi, and asked what Republican has ever done that recently.  Well Mitt Romney did it in 2012. Trump is struggling to win the Republican nomination. He will utterly fail to win the actual election.

    The best we can hope for is that the Republicans will at least manage to hold on to the House of Representatives to blunt whatever crazy nonsense Hillary will be up to in her first term.

    • #11
  12. Josh Farnsworth Member
    Josh Farnsworth
    @

    Valiuth: On Tuesday I heard Guiliani brag to Hannity about Trump managing to win both New York and Mississippi, and asked what Republican has ever done that recently. Well Mitt Romney did it in 2012.

    Great cadence on that point Valiuth.  The Trump apologists and facts are often like oil and water.

    • #12
  13. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe
    @PaulARahe

    Larry, this is a ridiculous argument. No one expected any other result in New York, and with his whining Trump has branded himself once again as an overgrown adolescent. He does not complain when the rules specify that, with a plurality, he takes all or a disproportionate number of the delegates. He only complains when someone, knowledgeable about the rules, out-campaigns and outwits him. Injustice is when Trump loses. Justice is when he wins. That is the ethic of a brat.

    We do not live in the United States in a plebiscitarian democracy. The Founding fathers knew better. Nor is the Republican Party a plebiscitarian democracy. It has set up a system designed to winnow out fools and scoundrels, and for the most part it works.

    This year it may still work, too. Trump may sweep the northeast, as you suggest. But neither New York nor any of those states will vote Republican in November, and the victories he gains in those states will not decide the result. Indiana and the states on the west coast will decide the question.

    • #13
  14. dukenaltum Coolidge
    dukenaltum
    @dukenaltum

    Others have already stated the obvious that Trump was the distant third in the democratic race in New York.  His comments today about a variety of  important conservative issues proves his bonafides as a democrat stalking horse for Hillary.

    • #14
  15. Mike LaRoche Inactive
    Mike LaRoche
    @MikeLaRoche

    On a related note, Kempism is Dead.

    • #15
  16. Martel Inactive
    Martel
    @Martel

    This post neither condemns nor praises Trump’s policies or potential worth as president.  It simply describes how in this particular instance he out-messaged Cruz despite losing those states, thus turning a delegate loss into a PR victory of sorts.

    So “Trump is a weenie who would make an awful president”, whether correct or incorrect, is beside the point.

    It’s perfectly possible to dislike both messenger and message yet acknowledge that something was well-played politically.  Or, to disagree with whether or not it was in fact well-played without accusing those who take the other side of being some sort of apologist.

    If anything, those who oppose Trump should acknowledge when he does something well, not to necessarily praise him, but to be able to beat him.

    But giving him any credit at all might make somebody somewhere think you like him or something.  Better to be safe and just use vitriol.  Can’t learn as much that way, but it feels so darn righteous.

    • #16
  17. Marion Evans Inactive
    Marion Evans
    @MarionEvans

    Nice try, Larry, but I think he already offered Treasury to Icahn.

    It is time to talk about how the system was rigged in favor of Trump. How did he get 100% of the delegates in South Carolina, Florida, Arizona with less than 50% of the popular vote? I hope there are some lawsuits to expose this non-democratic process that has benefited Trump. More here ICYMI:

    http://ricochet.com/here-you-go-donald-your-new-delegate-count/

    • #17
  18. Nyadnar17 Inactive
    Nyadnar17
    @Nyadnar17

    I am confused. How is Trump doing what everyone has been expecting him to do and winning New York a “game changer”?

    • #18
  19. EThompson Inactive
    EThompson
    @EThompson

    Valiuth:On Tuesday I heard Guiliani brag to Hannity about Trump managing to win both New York and Mississippi, and asked what Republican has ever done that recently. whatever crazy nonsense Hillary will be up to in her first term.

    This is just a thing with me because I so admire the man. Mr. Mayor is spelled Giuliani.

    • #19
  20. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    EThompson:

    Valiuth:On Tuesday I heard Guiliani brag to Hannity about Trump managing to win both New York and Mississippi, and asked what Republican has ever done that recently. whatever crazy nonsense Hillary will be up to in her first term.

    This is just a thing with me because I so admire the man. Mr. Mayor is spelled Giuliani.

    My apologies, it was a typo.

    • #20
  21. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

    So Larry wants a job, Hannity wants his own slot back, and is helping Greta et al to get Fox  its own President, why not the others do.      I think this is more evidence of the tyranny of cliches and inability to think discussed in  the excellent  Folkerstsma article on Eichmann.  We thought otherwise and it’s disappointing.

    • #21
  22. Olive Inactive
    Olive
    @Olive

    Martel:This post neither condemns nor praises Trump’s policies or potential worth as president. It simply describes how in this particular instance he out-messaged Cruz despite losing those states, thus turning a delegate loss into a PR victory of sorts.

    So “Trump is a weenie who would make an awful president”, whether correct or incorrect, is beside the point.

    It’s perfectly possible to dislike both messenger and message yet acknowledge that something was well-played politically. Or, to disagree with whether or not it was in fact well-played without accusing those who take the other side of being some sort of apologist.

    If anything, those who oppose Trump should acknowledge when he does something well, not to necessarily praise him, but to be able to beat him.

    But giving him any credit at all might make somebody somewhere think you like him or something. Better to be safe and just use vitriol. Can’t learn as much that way, but it feels so darn righteous.

    This.

    • #22
  23. Larry3435 Member
    Larry3435
    @Larry3435

    Larry Kudlow: Actually, I think the whole GOP selection process is crazy. Why not a simple, direct, winner-take-all primary election? The person with the most votes gets all the delegates. Nice and simple.

    Sure.  Why have a convention at all?  Just do a single, nation-wide primary, and whoever gets the plurality of votes is the candidate.  Why should a political party have any say in who its candidate will be?  And while we’re at it, let’s get rid of the Electoral College.  And the Senate.  Why should Rhode Island get the same two votes as California?  And for that matter, why not get rid of the states entirely?  One national election to select a Supreme Leader.  Nice and simple.  All this federalism stuff, and following the Constitution, is very taxing for people with small brains who aren’t paying attention.

    • #23
  24. A-Squared Inactive
    A-Squared
    @ASquared

    Larry Kudlow: However, and this is the key point, Cruz argued time and again that the rules were the rules and that he simply played by them. And as Trump continuously attacked the RNC rules as being undemocratic, disenfranchising to voters, and creatures of out-of-touch Republican-party regulars, he put Cruz in the position of backing the establishment.

    In other words, Trump lied.

    Got it.

    Can we call him “Lying Donald” now?

    • #24
  25. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda
    @RandyWeivoda

    Larry Kudlow: Now, Colorado was a bad delegate story to begin with. A planned direct primary vote was cancelled.

    This is untrue.  For many years, Colorado like my state of Minnesota has had a caucus system.  At the precinct caucus there would be a totally non-binding presidential preference poll.  It was just a poll done for curiosity’s sake and had nothing whatsoever to do with the allocation of delegates.  Last August Colorado decided to drop the non-binding presidential preference poll.  That’s it.  They didn’t cancel a primary election.  You can read more of the details in this article by Majestyk.

    Regarding the suggestion that the caucus system should be replaced by winner-take-all primaries in each state, I very much disagree.  There are states that have open primaries where people will cross over and vote in their opposition party’s primary to sabotage the other party by voting for their weakest candidate.  While this can happen with a caucus system, few people are going to invest several hours going to a precinct caucus then county convention just to help sabotage the other party.  If you can walk in, cast a vote, and leave in 15 minutes, the cost of such sabotage is much lower.

    In the states that do have primaries, I’m against winner-take-all, unless it’s conditional on the top vote-getter getting say 60% or more.  It’s not up to me to tell other states what to do, but I’m not crazy about a race with a bunch of candidates and the top guy getting all of the delegates for a state when he captures less than a third of the votes.

    • #25
  26. A-Squared Inactive
    A-Squared
    @ASquared

    Randy Weivoda:

    Larry Kudlow: Now, Colorado was a bad delegate story to begin with. A planned direct primary vote was cancelled.

    This is untrue.

    You can’t expect Trump supporters to tell the truth.

    • #26
  27. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe
    @PaulARahe

    Martel:This post neither condemns nor praises Trump’s policies or potential worth as president. It simply describes how in this particular instance he out-messaged Cruz despite losing those states, thus turning a delegate loss into a PR victory of sorts.

    So “Trump is a weenie who would make an awful president”, whether correct or incorrect, is beside the point.

    It’s perfectly possible to dislike both messenger and message yet acknowledge that something was well-played politically. Or, to disagree with whether or not it was in fact well-played without accusing those who take the other side of being some sort of apologist.

    If anything, those who oppose Trump should acknowledge when he does something well, not to necessarily praise him, but to be able to beat him.

    But giving him any credit at all might make somebody somewhere think you like him or something. Better to be safe and just use vitriol. Can’t learn as much that way, but it feels so darn righteous.

    Technically, you are correct. But Kudlow’s enthusiasm for Trump is pretty obvious, and the post begs a question. If unadulterated democracy produces a Trump, is unadulterated democracy a good thing? The logic of Kudlow’s argument would suggest that — given the results of the first 1932 Reichstag election in Germany — no one should have scrambled to prevent him from becoming Chancellor.

    I do not mean to deny that popular support is an argument. I do mean to suggest that it is not the only argument. If Kudlow were to set aside his enthusiasm for the man (which I consider ill-placed), he would, I suspect, grant my point. Then he would have to make the argument that Trump is not only popular but genuinely choiceworthy.

    • #27
  28. Josh Farnsworth Member
    Josh Farnsworth
    @

    Martel:This post neither condemns nor praises Trump’s policies or potential worth as president. It simply describes how in this particular instance he out-messaged Cruz despite losing those states, thus turning a delegate loss into a PR victory of sorts.

    So “Trump is a weenie who would make an awful president”, whether correct or incorrect, is beside the point.

    It’s perfectly possible to dislike both messenger and message yet acknowledge that something was well-played politically. Or, to disagree with whether or not it was in fact well-played without accusing those who take the other side of being some sort of apologist.

    If anything, those who oppose Trump should acknowledge when he does something well, not to necessarily praise him, but to be able to beat him.

    But giving him any credit at all might make somebody somewhere think you like him or something. Better to be safe and just use vitriol. Can’t learn as much that way, but it feels so darn righteous.

    The stakes are a little high to give Trump credit for anything, don’t you think?  I think another comment pointed out, correctly, that the right railed against Clinton’s ability to spin the truth rather than praising it.  And rightly so.  Likewise, I don’t find Trump’s obfuscation, dodging, and ability to delude the uninformed as admirable in any way.  And neither should Mr. Kudlow, if he is a conservative.

    • #28
  29. Josh Farnsworth Member
    Josh Farnsworth
    @

    A-Squared:

    Randy Weivoda:

    Larry Kudlow: Now, Colorado was a bad delegate story to begin with. A planned direct primary vote was cancelled.

    This is untrue.

    You can’t expect Trump supporters to tell the truth.

    Or participate in another televised debate.  What is Trump afraid of?  Oh, I remember, an intelligent argument.

    • #29
  30. The Question Inactive
    The Question
    @TheQuestion

    Wisconsin didn’t stop Trump from having a big victory in New York,but I also see no reason why a big victory in New York means that Trump will do well in Indiana or California, or anywhere else.  For Cruz, the worst case scenario in New York wasn’t much different than the best case scenario.  I was hoping Cruz would pick up a few delegates in New York, but he was never going to get more than a few.

    Also, it must be noted, Trump will never win New York in the general election.  Hillary got more than twice as many votes as Trump.  Bernie, although beat by Hillary comfortably, also beat Trump comfortably.  The idea that the New York primary establishes that Trump should be our nominee is baseless.

    • #30

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