Until The Donald started in on Cruz, he was well nigh invincible. His image was the can-do business tycoon, the fun-loving, affable, every-man’s-billionaire-with-supermodel-wife, His cut-straight-to-the-chase thing is very appealing. I like him myself. Even his criticisms of other candidates have been well-received because they were both funny and true, and for the most part, on relevant points: both Carson and Jeb on the perceived lack of vigor, for example; a good bit less relevant in other cases, like Carly Fiorina and the horse-face thing.
For months the seeming hands-off deal or alliance of convenience, whatever it was, with Cruz has intrigued conservatives and their enemies alike: making The Donald’s thin conservative bona fides palatable, while giving us all a clue that Cruz was much smarter than previous movement-conservative candidates in the last generation. The breakup of this little bromance has been pretty vicious on both sides, and I’ll not deny that Cruz has been no less vicious than Trump.
Now that the gloves are off, Trump’s attacks on Cruz have NOT been humorous, and mostly not been substantive — the birther thing, and Cruz’s incorrect reporting on campaign loans. And of all the dumb things to say, the fact that Cruz has not played well with others in Washington. I’ve been surprised at how clumsy it’s been. To me, that signals that Trump is, in fact, rather worried about Cruz. I think he’s too proud to rehearse humorous ways of making his attacks. Ted’s gold-plated bona fides and his savvy campaign have not left much in the way of obvious openings.
Unlike Trump’s fan base, Cruz’s support is based on a trust that’s not going to be easily shaken. It’s not his words, although I believe his supreme confidence and his ability to advocate for the conservative case have been a help. No, it’s the fact that when Texans sent Ted up to Washington, that guy went up there and did what he said he would do, what EVERY conservative American wishes their senator and congressman would do. Conservatives all across America know EXACTLY why Ted is unpopular in Washington and in the party, and are THRILLED by it. These bona fides are the best for a presidential candidate, literally since Reagan, who himself had the 8-year governorship of California to be judged by. Ted’s fans KNOW what Ted believes and what Ted will do, and they know his level of courage. And like Ted himself, his fans no longer fear media firestorms about real or perceived scandals.
Trump’s fan base has alot of Ted fans. And when Trump goes low, like this birtherism and the cheap shots on loan reporting, he’s going to lose the conservative wing of his support, and lose it directly to the rival who is coming up in the outside lane – that is a double-impact point loss.
Trump’s descent into BitterGuy™ (for example the George Stephanopoulos interview) is fascinating and surprising. I thought when it came to Trump vs Cruz, that Trump would be agile and formidable. He’s coming unraveled in front of our eyes.