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March 18, 2016

Coward in Chief?

Joe Charlebois

With the field whittled down to just three active Republican campaigns and just two candidates with a mathematical path to the nomination, the GOP’s current top vote getter decided to take his ball and go home to protect his lead.


Mr. Trump’s decision to pull out of next Monday’s debate at the Salt Palace – which precipitated a pullout by Gov. John Kasich (OH) as well – left Sen. Ted Cruz (TX) as the lone man standing on the stage. FOX News officially cancelled the debate when Senator Cruz had no one to debate.


Mr. Trump’s successful marketing of “Trump the Candidate” through his use of simple repetitive phrases and deliberate obfuscation have earned him one of the most loyal followings of any candidate in recent memory. He has taken both sides of many important issues and – despite this – his ardent supporters fail to see the pattern.


As the list of candidates has been reduced, the amount of time on the debate stage for each candidate has grown. This may be why, when faced with the task of taking the stage with the only true conservative in the race, one who has never wavered in his support of the U.S. Constitution and his core principles, Mr. Trump showed us all that he is indeed a political coward.


Donald Trump currently leads the field of Republican candidates and has the clearest opportunity to win the nomination. In second place is Senator Cruz. He is the only other candidate with any chance of picking up enough delegates to win the nomination outright. All other candidates have been mathematically eliminated including Governor Kasich, who is still campaigning.


As it stands now, there are three distinct camps. The Donald Trump camp, the Ted Cruz camp and the Establishment/Anyone-But-Trump camp. With Mr. Trump’s current status as the candidate with the most delegates, he realizes that his greatest threat is not the establishment but rather Senator Cruz. He has taken advantage of the large candidate field by allowing his former competition to destroy each other while he looked on. While the field was large, Mr. Trump effectively kept his points to easy to understand sound bites. Other candidates had no time to espouse their policy stances and were effectively forgotten.


Now we are down to two candidates. It is just Mr. Trump and Senator Cruz who remain. Mr. Trump. who has been doing his best Charlie Sheen impression (“ah…winning!”) had the opportunity to wrap up this nomination with a head-to-head with Senator Cruz, chose instead to complain about the number of debates as well as FOX News moderator Megyn Kelly.


Monday night, Mr. Trump will speak before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) at their annual conference. As he did prior to the Iowa Caucuses, he has once again left the debate stage prior to a primary contest. What is different this time is the point in time of the campaign. At this time Mr. Trump’s decision to withdraw is correctly seen as ducking Senator Cruz.


Politically, this may be the smart move for Mr. Trump. The less that he interacts directly with Senator Cruz, the more likely that he may win the nomination. Senator Cruz would reveal Mr. Trump’s lack of basic economics regarding tariffs. He would reveal his lack of respect for the U.S. Constitution. He would reveal Mr. Trump’s troubling authoritarian comments regarding orders given to military leaders. He would reveal how Mr. Trump’s “core” values are ever changing.


Often times National Football League teams will go into a “prevent-defense” in an attempt to protect their lead. This is what Mr. Trump seems to have decided to do as well. In the NFL teams often lose their momentum and sometimes the game when they go to this defensive scheme.


It might work for Mr. Trump if he delays long enough, but if he doesn’t continue to win at the same rate, he will find it hard to continue to hide from Senator Cruz.


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