Ted Cruz received a lot of criticism for what many saw as his role in propping up Donald Trump early in the GOP primary race. The Cruz campaign knew Donald Trump was doing surprisingly well in the south and with evangelicals, two demographics crucial to Cruz getting the nomination. Now we’re learning it was much worse than that. Cruz’s campaign manager, Jeff Roe, shared internal polling data with Corey Lewandowski that gave team Trump enough time to recalibrate the campaign to win the New Hampshire primary:
The inability of Republican competitors to find and effectively use material against Trump that surfaced later during the general election provided a key break for his candidate, but was political “malpractice,” he said.
Indeed, at one crucial point, a rival campaign aided Trump’s rise. After Trump’s loss in the Iowa caucuses, Jeff Roe, campaign manager for Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, called Lewandowski to warn him that polls they had done showed Trump’s support dropping in the coming New Hampshire primary because Trump was attacking other candidates too much.
Trump was not doing his own polls, Lewandowski said, so the insight provided key guidance which allowed them to recalibrate strategy.
A loss in New Hampshire might have crippled Trump. Instead, his victory there, followed by triumphs in Nevada and South Carolina, virtually assured him the nomination.
Roe, in an interview, confirmed Lewandowski’s account. At that point in the campaign, “we needed Trump” to defeat other candidates, he said, ruefully.
This is unheard of. It is also inexcusable on the part of Jeff Roe. The LA Times is right. A loss in Iowa, coupled with a loss in New Hampshire, likely would have created the “loser” narrative other campaigns would pounce on. A the time, we knew Team Cruz was hoping for a Trump win in NH. Liam Donovan wrote this on February 8:
Cruz’s win in Iowa pierced Trump’s aura of inevitability — to the point where some analysts are now dismissing the Trump threat as a thing of the past. And in an ironic turnabout, with the roles reversed in New Hampshire and a predicted Trump victory there, Team Cruz is now openly cheering for the Donald, in a bid to derail Rubio. So cynical calculations are hardly confined to “the establishment.” This is politics, after all. But with a fractured field lowering the threshold for victory and few signs the GOP is coalescing around a single pick, it remains pure folly to prop up, abet, or otherwise enable Trump.
Instead, Trump won, and when he did, all the momentum was on his side.
In the end, I am going to agree with my friend Aaron Gardner who said this: