During Thursday night’s debate, Ted Cruz brought up Donald Trump’s New York values, saying “I think everyone knows exactly what New York values are.” That night, after the debate, most pundits said that Donald Trump invoking the images of 9/11 had won the day. Other pundits thought that this was the first round and that this line of attack would hurt Mr. Trump. Friday, the Cruz for President campaign put out a minute-long ad that used Mr. Trump’s own interview against Mr. Trump.
This Washington Post article highlights the Cruz for President strategy. Apparently, Mr. Trump got baited into this line of attack. During Mr. Trump’s interview with the late Tim Russert, Trump was asked about his positions on partial birth abortion, gay marriage and gays serving in the military. (Trump supported partial birth abortion and gays serving in the military but was noncommittal on gay marriage.)
When Trump said “I’ve lived in New York City and Manhattan all my life so, you know, my views are a little different than if I lived in Iowa — perhaps”, he gave Sen. Cruz a tremendous opportunity to exploit.
Since then, Cruz supporters have taken to Twitter to highlight Donald Trump’s New York values. One Cruz supporter tweeted about Trump “supporting Democrat Charlie Crist” over Marco Rubio. To be fair, to Trump, Crist wasn’t a Democrat then. Officially, he started that campaign as a Republican. After Rubio defeated him in the GOP primary, he switched party affiliation and ran as an independent against Rubio. It wasn’t until 2012 that Crist officially became a Democrat.
Another Cruz supporter took to Twitter to say that “Hillary rushes to @realDonaldTrump defense.” Other Cruz supporters have highlighted the fact that Mr. Trump cited lefty constitutional law scholar Laurence Tribe as the person who thinks Sen. Cruz isn’t eligible to run for president. Trump citing an uber-lefty academic like Tribe identifies Trump as a lefty who uses government when it helps him make a profit.
While it isn’t likely that that will hurt Mr. Trump in New Hampshire, it’s a distinct possibility that they’ll hurt Trump in Iowa, South Carolina and in the SEC Primary states. This is a great reminder of the lesson Karl Rove taught John Kerry after the first presidential debate in 2004.
That night, the focus of the debate was on foreign policy, which was supposedly President Bush’s strong suit. Despite that fact, then-Sen. Kerry turned in his most impressive performance of the campaign. Late in the debate, Sen. Kerry talked about taking actions that “met the global test.” When the moderator asked President Bush what Sen. Kerry meant by a global test, President Bush said he had no idea what Sen. Kerry meant.
From that debate forward, Karl Rove ran ads pummeling Kerry with that saying. Sen. Kerry won the debate and lost the war. It appears as though Mr. Trump won the debate and is getting his head handed to him in the post-debate.