Right now, the GOP nomination is Donald Trump’s to lose. That isn’t because Mr. Trump is a great candidate. When nearly half of GOP activists say that they’ll never vote for Mr. Trump, that isn’t a sign of strength for a candidate. It’s indisputable that Mr. Trump is winning. What’s disputable is why he’s winning.
One theory for why Mr. Trump is winning is because none of the other candidates appear to be interested in winning. According to this article, Trump has largely been unscathed. Thus far, “$215 million [has been] spent by super PACs so far this cycle,” with only 4 percent spent attacking Trump. That essentially means that Trump’s campaign cruise ship isn’t getting targeted but the Cruz and Rubio battleships are getting battered beyond recognition. If Sen. Rubio and Sen. Cruz keep fighting amongst themselves, Trump will wrap the nomination up without getting hit.
That will give Mr. Trump the aura of invincibility. That’s a fallacy. Trump is like a boxer with a glass jaw. Right now, Sen. Cruz and Sen. Rubio are hitting him with weak body punches. Rest assured that the Clinton campaign won’t be that delicate. They’ll hit Trump with one devastating punch to the jaw after another.
This is a devastating indictment against Sen. Cruz:
While a queue for allotments of blame would be longer than a Great Depression breadline, the person at the head of it is Ted Cruz. For months, Cruz embraced Trump as a comrade-in-arms. This helped send the signal to talk radio hosts and various conservative activists that Trump was a healthy addition to the political conversation. Even though the two men are wildly divergent ideologically, they both found shelter under the “anti-establishment” umbrella.
Cruz finally broke the clinch in Iowa and demonstrated that negative attacks on Trump work.
But then, disastrously, Cruz stopped attacking. He wrongly reasoned that he had no chance in New Hampshire and had little to gain, so why bother fighting Trump there? For the entire crucial week leading up to the New Hampshire primary, the GOP field went back into a cannibalistic frenzy to win the non-Trump mantle. This allowed Trump to run up a huge victory in the Granite State, and that momentum let him gobble up Cruz’s evangelical base in South Carolina (where 73 percent of voters describe themselves as evangelical or born-again), resulting in a strategically devastating third-place finish that shattered Cruz’s claim to be the standard-bearer of true conservatism.
When Sen. Cruz hit Trump, Trump crumpled. He went from leading in Iowa by 7 points to losing by 3 points in less than a week. Rather than learn the lesson that hitting Trump hard works, Sen. Cruz essentially went into a prevent defense in the first quarter. Instead of playing to win, Sen. Cruz played not-to-lose.
That isn’t to say that Sen. Rubio has used the right strategy. He hasn’t. Sen. Rubio needs to go on offense. It isn’t enough to say that he’s the only candidate that can unite the GOP. While that’s a true statement, Sen. Rubio needs to show voters that he’s a fighter. If he keeps doing what he’s been doing, he’ll hand the nomination to Trump.
Jeb Bush tried attacking Trump but that looked like a poodle attacking a pit bull. Rubio has the chops to devastate Trump. If there’s one thing that’s indisputable, it’s that challenging Trump makes him say crazy things. That should be Sen. Rubio’s goal each day.
Waiting for the other candidates to drop out is foolish. Apparently, Gov. Kasich and Dr. Carson aren’t getting out of the race. Why they aren’t is anyone’s guess. The time for fighting and winning is now.