After last night’s interview with Megyn Kelly, it isn’t a stretch to think that Heidi Cruz might be Ted Cruz’s not-that-secret weapon. One of the things she did, perhaps unintentionally, was to defang Donald Trump. When asked about Trump’s retweet of a side-by-side photo of Mrs. Cruz and Mrs. Trump, Heidi Cruz replied “I really have to honestly say it didn’t impact me in the least.” (Earlier in the interview, Mrs. Cruz indicated that she doesn’t have a Twitter account.)
Perhaps more damaging to Trump was Mrs. Cruz’s statement that Trump’s bluster isn’t based in reality, adding that “We have run our campaign with the principles that Ted and I believe in.”
It’s one thing for a presidential candidate to say that his/her opponent is making things up. It’s much more powerful when the spouse makes that statement, especially when the spouse is perceived to be apolitical. (This axiom doesn’t apply to the Clintons because they’re both career politicians.)
When the subject of Donald Trump’s criticism came up, Heidi Cruz said something eye-opening. She said “I brush these attacks off because these attacks on character are a distraction.” It wasn’t just that she said that. It’s how confidently she said it.
The biggest positive that will come out of this interview is how she personalized her husband. The public sees Candidate Cruz as smart, disciplined and principled, thanks in large part to the media’s coverage. That’s fair because that’s the media’s job.
That perspective changed, though, last night because those that watched the interview got to hear about Ted Cruz, the father, Ted Cruz, the husband, and Ted Cruz, the guy who loves playing chess.
What observant people found out about Mrs. Cruz is that she isn’t afraid to defend her husband when Trump’s personal attacks come. For instance, when Megyn Kelly brought up the gossip about Sen. Cruz’s alleged affairs, Mrs. Cruz replied “It’s garbage. It’s just garbage. This is another example of Donald Trump engaging in the politics of personal destruction.”
That type of statement serves a dual purpose. First, it sends Mr. Trump the signal that Mrs. Cruz won’t tolerate Trump’s personal attacks. Perhaps more importantly, though, it paints Mr. Trump into a strategic corner. If Trump attacks her again, there will be a backlash against him.
Let’s be clear, though. This won’t cause Trump’s loyal supporters to abandon him. They’re with him through thick and even thicker yet. That type of personal attack against a candidate’s spouse just harden the ceiling on Trump’s support. That’s a big thing because it’s what’s prevented Trump from wrapping up the GOP nomination.
What’s happening is that the Cruz campaign is finally deploying Heidi Cruz to soften Sen. Cruz’s image. That’s the image that people will likely see increasingly the rest of the campaign.