Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Ted Cruz's Latest Calculation

Ted Cruz is one of the most talented politicians I've ever seen.

I don't mean that in a good way. He's calculating and manipulative, every action and every word thought out carefully. If you want a couple examples, look at his handling of immigration reform and the way he used a government shutdown to boost his own profile amongst the Republican electorate, even at the expense of his own party.

His handling of the 2016 Primary Season is superb. He went from a being a long shot candidate to the Republican Party's last hope to keep Donald Trump from the nomination. All this was thanks to a strategy that he stuck to from the beginning of his campaign in April 2015. Had it not been for the Trump juggernaut that steamrolled over the entire field, we likely would be calling Cruz the presumptive nominee.

In fact, we may still.

That may be surprising to say since he suspended his campaign last week. But follow my thinking for a moment.

Ted Cruz is not someone who acts on a whim. He isn't reckless. He's calculating and measured. Every act, every position is thought out and purposeful. Following his surprise victory in Wisconsin, he had hoped to regain moment to overtake Trump and deny him the nomination. But he suffered in the northeastern states, failing to crack second place in five of the six states. In the lead up to Indiana, it was believed that if something didn't change, Cruz was fighting a lost cause.

Thus, came Cruz's one act of desperation; the unusual naming of a vice-presidential nominee. From the get go it was viewed as illogical and desperate. Ultimately, it only sank him in Indiana. So, as he lost in a landslide, he announced he was suspending his campaign.

Since then, little has been heard from Ted Cruz. Until today, when in an interview with Glenn Beck he said he would consider returning to the campaign trail if he won an "unlikely" victory in Nebraska, a state where not only he is not only still on the ballot but was also projected to win before he dropped out.

So why the sudden change of heart?

Perhaps because Donald Trump has failed to unite his party behind him. Perhaps because General Election Trump isn't too different from Primary Trump, who isn't very popular with the general electorate. The nominee the Republicans got hasn't done much to ease their fears or anxieties. In fact, he seems to have increased them with statements that show a lack of understanding about the way the country's debt works, or that he's not too concerned about party unity.

The Republican Party has had a week to see what Nominee Trump looks like and they're not too thrilled.

And thus, perhaps this was Ted Cruz's greatest calculation of all; showing the party what they got and scaring them so that he could reemerge as the party's savior. It was only after Cruz withdrew where he got what he finally wanted; John Kasich stopped his campaign. If Cruz reenters the race, it will just be him and Trump, which he had wanted for months. A victory in Nebraska  (though already expected) will help change the media's narrative that Trump has the nomination and give Cruz reason to get back into the race.

He could point to Trump's statements as reason why he should not be their nominee. This could result in remaining voters flocking to him, keeping Trump from getting the nomination and throw the convention into contention.

Of course, it could backfire and only reinforce Trump's branding of him as Lyin' Ted, that he's untrustworthy and calculating, willing to say or do whatever is necessary to become President. It's a very accurate picture.

But it's also what could give Cruz the nomination out from under Donald Trump's feet.

I guess we'll see over the next few days.

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