Cruz Schooled Trump on the Art of the Delegate Deal

Throughout this Republican presidential primary, I’ve been keeping my eye on Ted Cruz. It’s not that he is any less toxic than Donald Trump. But while the reality TV star has depended on his celebrity and willingness to say outrageous things to garner attention, Cruz has been strategic. The results started to show this weekend.

Donald Trump’s effort to reset his campaign following defeat in Wisconsin showed no signs of paying off this weekend, as a series of technical failures by his campaign set his hopes back even further.

From Thursday to Saturday, Trump suffered setbacks in Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, South Carolina and Indiana that raise new doubts about his campaign’s preparedness for the long slog of delegate hunting as the GOP race approaches a possible contested convention. He lost the battle on two fronts. Cruz picked up 28 pledged delegates in Colorado. In the other states, rival campaigns were able to place dozens of their own loyalists in delegate spots pledged to Trump on the first ballot. This will matter if Trump fails to win a majority of delegates on the first ballot in Cleveland, as his delegates defect once party rules allow them to choose the candidate they want to nominate.

While the media is right to point out the poor performance of the Trump campaign in these instances. It is important to also recognize that Cruz is exploiting every possibility to gain the advantage. Calling what he is doing “Gestapo tactics” – as Trump’s newly hired delegate manager did yesterday – is, of course, over the top. But I have no doubt that Cruz is willing to use every trick in the book, whether they’re clean or dirty.

I will remind you that Ted Cruz was the first one to suggest the possibility of a “brokered convention.” He did so back in June of last year.

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz called a brokered GOP convention “a possibility” that “could happen” given the wide range of candidates running for the Republican nomination…

“Historically, what has happened is that the first three states, Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina had a disproportionate impact,” he said. “And they certainly have a big impact on momentum. And so what we’re doing is we’re planning for both contingencies.

What we witnessed this weekend is the Cruz campaign putting that plan into play. If Trump hasn’t won enough delegates to secure the nomination on the first round of voting in Cleveland, all hell breaks lose and Cruz is positioning himself as a player if that happens.

It is well above my pay grade to make projections about how all of this will play out. But I’m going to continue to keep an eye on Ted Cruz. He just schooled Trump on the “art of the delegate deal.”

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.