The Ted Cruz Super Tuesday victory speech accomplished some objectives, but it also reminded listeners how much more popular is Donald Trump.
Most of the Ted Cruz Super Tuesday speech was quite attractive to conservatives. Promising to end the IRS and repeal Obamacare certainly stirred my heart. Pointing out that Donald Trump had supported the evil TARP bailout of 2008 raised a central issue for any true conservative.
The speech had more than one purpose, though. Ted Cruz wasn’t just presenting himself as a candidate for conservatives. He was also trying to convince the RNC and the GOP establishment that he was their champion—their last, best hope against Donald Trump.
Maybe you heard Ted Cruz’s speech Tuesday night like I did. After congratulating Donald Trump on his victories, Ted Cruz said:
“But we are the only campaign that has beaten Donald Trump once…, twice… three times!”
This produced loud cheers. It was as if Cruz had pointed to himself as the undisputed cure for Donald Trump.
If this seems wrong to you, Cruz himself spelled out the problem in the next statement:
“Fifteen states have now voted. Every one of those states so far has been won by either Donald Trump, or myself.”
As it turns out, Cruz had also won Alaska (which must have thrilled Sarah Palin), so he could claim four victories.
But while it is true that Cruz is the only one who has beaten Trump in any state, his boasting in his victories only reminded me that he was, for the moment at least, a loser to Trump. It’s not as if it is a close race with Donald Trump and Ted Cruz running neck and neck. Donald Trump has won eleven states, over twice as many as Ted Cruz.
This can change of course. It seems probable, as Marco Rubio, John Kasich, and Ben Carson drop out of the race, that Ted Cruz will pick up more votes than Donald Trump. So Cruz had a good case for the other candidates dropping out of the race and supporting him.
But making it sound like three victories (or four) was a really big deal only made Donald Trump seem more amazing. The Ted Cruz Super Tuesday victory speech should have been crafted to avoid that implication. It might have done more harm than good.