It’s Thursday morning as I write this. I’m getting to be an old man and seldom stay up past midnight anymore. I did last night. One of the strangest things I have ever seen happen at a political convention – and I’ve been watching them since 1960 – happened when Canadian born Texas Tea Party/Republican Senator Raphael Edward “Ted” Cruz took the stage in Cleveland.
The 2016 Republican National convention is three days old as I write this and will be four day old when you read it. In a single word it has been a disaster to this point. When you have an obvious nominee they control the speaking slots. The convention is in effect a coronation. The event becomes a four day infomercial proclaiming to the world how great their ticket is and how evil the other Party’s is. The Republicans have done a pretty good job on the later but have blown the opportunity to achieve the former. If this were tennis we would say that Team Trump has continued to commit and in fact increased the frequency of their unforced errors.
Ted Cruz and Donald Trump don’t like each other. Neither is truly a Republican; both are attempting to use the Party to advance their personal agendas. Why the Trump campaign gave a prime time speaking slot to Cruz on a night whose focus should have been portraying Veep nominee Mike Pence in the best possible light is beyond me!
Cruz took to the stage allotted 10 minutes. He rambled on for 23 minutes finally exiting the stage to what by that time was a sustained chorus of boos from the assembled delegates and alternates. The Republican have a serious unity problem; part of the objective for Wednesday night way to put that away with a series of endorsements by several of Trump’s primary rivals. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker did his bit in a speech. Florida Senator Marco Rubio literally e-mailed it in via a 90 second video. Cruz failed to endorse Trump during his speech, in fact telling all those listening whether in the arena or watching on television, “Vote your conscious.”
In the aftermath Trump tweeted that he had an advance copy of the speech, knew there would not be an endorsement and still allowed Cruz to take the stage. This is like throwing a big birthday bash for yourself and having a speaker dominate the evening that you knew would not wish you a Happy Birthday.
There is background to all of this and it may have had an unintended consequence. Trump and Cruz exchanged some very bitter barbs during the primary. It got personal and involved family. Cruz, in particular, has reason to despise Trump! I thought perhaps Cruz had reneged on a promise to endorse. That doesn’t appear to be the case. That is also why well run campaigns demand advance copies of speeches which they release to the press well before the speakers ever set foot in front of the cameras.
The interesting thing is that it appears Cruz did something Team Trump couldn’t do; unite the assembled behind the ticket. While a good many delegates are far from sold on Trump they found Cruz’s conduct reprehensible.
Cruz is betting that Trump loses in 2016, (a good bet at this point), and is trying to position himself as the frontrunner for the GOP nod in 2020. I think that maneuver may have backfired. Many GOP regulars, (including Texans), did not approve of his tactics.
The Trump campaign is having trouble raising money from big donors. Considering how poorly this convention is going I expect that to continue. The big boys don’t make donations, they make investments. They are not going to invest in what looks like a losing cause. If you can’t run a convention in a somewhat controlled environment, how are you going to beat Hillary Clinton? In order to get a return on investment your candidate must win.
The root problem here is that the Republican Party has been taken over by a bunch of extremists who care about their egos and do not care about the Party. Trump and Cruz are not anomalies; they are reflections of what the base of the Party is today.
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