יום חמישי, 21 ביולי 2016

5 takeaways from Cruz’s convention stunner

Ted Cruz taught us that revenge is a dish best served on live national TV Wednesday night. |

The conservative bomb-thrower reminds the GOP he’s not in it to make friends.
CLEVELAND — Ted Cruz just out-Trumped Trump.

Turns out that when you bully a guy for months, suggest his wife is unattractive, insinuate that his dad participated in the JFK assassination, call him “Lyin’ Ted,” dispatch your bouncer-like emissaries to coerce an endorsement, then give him a prime-time speaking spot on the third night of your nominating convention — well, you get the picture.

Audacity is supposed to be Donald Trump’s most valuable attribute, but it was Cruz who delivered one the most audacious blows of the 2016 campaign, pointedly refusing to endorse his party’s nominee even as an incensed audience at the Quicken Loans Arena on Wednesday night booed him off the stage.

Revenge is best served on live national TV. And Trump, sat there sullen, stone-faced and jut-jowled with his equally unhappy-camper family — a higher stakes reprise of the public embarrassment heaped on him at the 2011 White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Cruz’s defiance catapulted the ragged, plagiarism-marred, poorly managed convention into nuclear dumpster fire territory.

Moments before Trump’s vice-presidential running mate Mike Pence was preparing to deliver remarks that included the line, “This week, with this united party …” security escorted Cruz’s wife out of the arena for her own safety.

Cruz burns Trump

By Shane Goldmacher, Katie Glueck and Matthew Nussbaum

Here are five takeaways from a night that furnished one of the most memorable moments in the annals of recent convention history.

Frankly Donald, Ted didn’t give a damn. Cruz — who a few short months back vied to be the unlikely standard-bearer for the vanquished GOP establishment — taught Trump something party leaders on Capitol Hill have known since the Texas senator took office in 2013: He’s got a deep anti-authoritarian streak and relishes the opportunity to sledgehammer the best-laid plans of anyone who tells him what to do.

Cruz was deeply noncommittal when I spoke with him for POLITICO’s “Off Message” podcast week. Asked whether he planned to endorse Trump, he cooly replied: “In this election, I am where a great many voters are, which is that I am listening and watching and coming to a decision.”

He was true to his equivocal word, and seemed to really, really enjoy delivering a well-organized, evenly delivered articulation of the core conservative values he believes should dictate the party’s politics. “We deserve leaders who stand for principle, who unite us all behind shared values, who cast aside anger for love,” Cruz said, in what may or may not have been a swipe at the man who forced him to suspend his campaign in May. “That is the standard we should expect from everybody.”

Apparently, Trump ain’t there quite yet. Cruz seemed to genuinely savor his moment in the spotlight, in his love-to-be-hated Pete Rose way, a visiting team player delighting in torturing the home-team crowd. When the boos began, Cruz — who famously flayed Trump for his “New York values” — joked: “I appreciate the enthusiasm of the New York delegation.”

Behind Cruz's ultimate snub

By Burgess Everett and Seung Min Kim

More than anything, he seemed to get a kick out of having leverage, teasing the on-edge Trumps with language that skirted but never amounted to an endorsement, or even an especially convincing expression of confidence in the nominee’s campaign.

Cruz gives Hillary a slogan. Cruz bared the blade with this memorable line:

“To those listening, please, don’t stay home in November. If you love our country and love your children as much as I know you do, stand and speak, and vote your conscience, vote for candidates up and down the ticket who you trust to defend our freedom and to be faithful to the Constitution,” Cruz said.

For Hillary Clinton, a candidate who has struggled with crafting a concise message, the heavens instantly opened and rained bumper stickers.

An hour or so later, Clinton tweeted “Vote your conscience” with a link to a voter registration page.

Cruz rolls the dice. The Cruz campaign has never actually ceased to exist. Cruz (who raised a blockbuster $93 million for the primaries) has kept many senior staffers on the payroll and has commissioned a detailed post-mortem of his failed (if impressive) 2016 effort with an eye toward 2020.

Everything Cruz says or does these days should be seen through the prism of the next election, not the current one, and in many ways, his Wednesday bombshell was the first salvo of his next war. But his decision to snub Trump so spectacularly is based on a somewhat risky assumption: Cruz, according to people close to the candidate, believes the reality-show nominee is a political lightning strike, a one-time phenomenon who captured the energy of the base but doesn’t respect the GOP base’s core conservatism, and that his more conventional, tea party approach will eventually come back into vogue when the orange fog dissipates.

This is by no means a certainty, and Trump won in no small measure because he’s a much more entertaining and attractive candidate than Cruz, who is a magnet for unflattering memes, including the creepy Zodiac Killer joke.

Off Message
Ted Cruz contemplates the unthinkable

By Glenn Thrush

“Look, it’s not the most pleasant thing in the world,” he said when I asked him if “likability” was his albatross. “But I understand narratives and narratives, whether they’re a media narrative or whether they’re an attack from your political opponent ...”

And beyond the possibility of a miscalculation lurks a risk that Cruz and his staff are keenly aware of: accusations, sure to be leveled by the Trump family if the GOP nominee loses, that Cruz abetted the election of the hated Hillary Clinton, which could snuff out his 2020 chances before the next campaign begins. It might be too late to heal the breach between the two men, but the smart money is still on an eventual Trump endorsement to avoid accusations that he’s a secret Democratic double agent.

Huge stakes for Trump on Thursday. The wiry man in a checked shirt walking unnoticed and grinning among the tipsy Trump delegates and partiers in their floppy elephant hats was none other than David Plouffe, Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign manager, who was on talking-head patrol for the cable networks.

He scoffed when I asked whether the sloppy, discordant convention would have an impact on the Trump-Clinton contest, which had been tightening since the flare-up of her email scandal earlier this month. This was before the Cruz spectacle, but Plouffe’s answer was curt and categorical: “This is all noise. The only speech that matters is Trump’s on Thursday.”

That, times 10, now.

Pence was good. Mike Pence gave a sturdy, endearing, impassioned and almost completely ignored post-prime-time speech. He was overshadowed by Cruz, but he won’t always be, and he deftly trod a fine line, presenting himself as aw-shucks decent, delegated to translate Gotham Trump into Midwest Nice (“He’s a man known for a large personality, a colorful style and lots of charisma. And so I guess he was just looking for some balance on the ticket,” he said) while attacking Clinton with the verve of the seasoned partisan he is.

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