Over the last few weeks, I have pondered this thought – is Donald Trump running interference for [mc_name name=’Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001098′ ] in the fight for the Republican nomination?
Preposterous? Blasphemous? Impossible?
For months now, Trump has emphatically said he was in the race to win both the Republican nomination and the White House. And his actions to date, in general, would bear this out.
Yet, consider a few head-scratching moments in the campaign so far, and you begin to wonder if there is truth to this hypothesis.
(Spoiler alert: what follows is pure postulation…)
To wit, of all the candidates running, Cruz has been the least vocal about Trump’s positions and off-the-cuff remarks. Now, Cruz supporters will tell you that this is because [mc_name name=’Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001098′ ] is running a “smart” campaign, staying above the fray and avoiding a war of words with Trump. And while I agree with this assessment, as it is clear no one can (or wants to) match Trump’s vocal veracity and social media presence, taken with other events, something else may be at play.
For example, what was discussed in that closed door session Cruz had with Trump before the December CNN debate? Certainly, a healthy airing of opinions and discussion about keeping conversations on-point. But, was there more? Is Trump helping coach Cruz on attack timing vis-a-vis the other candidates? This is not to demean Cruz’ ability to think for himself, but Trump was much more likely to be in a position to know how far moderators might push a Cruz-Rubio debate of positions.
Then there is the mind-numbing lack of detail in some of Trump’s positions. Yes, he did provide detail in his tax plan, but there is little detail to other positions. Some have said this is just because he really doesn’t know. But, someone does not become a multi-billionaire by being ignorant and uninformed. By making brash statements, Trump has opened discussions on Main Street about previously taboo campaign subjects like illegal immigration, radical Islam, etc.
Donald Trump is a strategist at his core. But he is also, shall we say, flexible. He may have not intended for his campaign to be so successful early on, but there is not doubt he is playing a chess match in this campaign that few others understand. It would not be a stretch at all to think that a non-traditional candidate like Trump would see many likable characteristics in Cruz.
By running a non-traditional campaign now, Trump potentially inoculates candidates like Cruz from the inevitable insincere coverage the Republican nominee is likely to face in the General Election. Plus, he opens the discussion early about issues Main Street is frustrated about, issues mainstream political operatives would view as poison.
Consider also the strange episode of Trump calling into question [mc_name name=’Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’M000303′ ]’s military service. Trump’s comments were widely panned publicly by everyone, including Cruz, so one wonders what precipitated this action. One school of thought is that Trump was still peeved, as many of us are, at the abysmal way McCain ran his 2008 campaign. Trump contributed $13K directly to the effort, and no doubt thousands more indirectly, so most people did not take kindly to throwing good money after bad.
However, it is no secret McCain abhors Cruz in and out of the Senate, and McCain has shown to be far more entrenched in the Washington Establishment policies that both Cruz and Trump have called into question. Indeed, McCain’s actions of late smack of outright disdain for Conservatives. Through his outrageous comments about McCain, Trump fires a warning shot across the bow of the Republican Establishment that he has achieved far more than any of them, and they need to pay attention. While the Establishment and others view Trump’s comments as reckless and insulting per se, they take on a different meaning if Trump throws his support behind Cruz.
It is a long campaign, with one already-anointed nominee. Because the liberal press is already so invested in Hillary Clinton’s candidacy, they have been and will continue to fall all over themselves for ways to prop up their tired, haggled candidate of choice at the expense of any Republican. But by taking up nearly all the media oxygen, Donald Trump has actually breathed life into the candidacies of people like Ted Cruz, as the liberal press is less focused on micromanaging their Conservative messaging.
Am I right? Time will tell, but as much as Donald Trump loves the spotlight, I doubt he is in love with the idea of the entrenched inertia that is Washington DC.