NATIONAL HARBOR, Maryland, March 5, 2016 – Ted Cruz is now wearing a smile that all but signifies his confidence that the Republican nomination is well in his reach.
After Senator Cruz out shined Donald Trump in Thursday night’s debate performance, the Donald decided he needed to high-tail it to Kansas rather than speak to the conservative and libertarian crowd at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).
Big mistake. YUUGE!
— CPAC 2018 (@CPAC) March 4, 2016
This allowed Senator Cruz to not only have the wind at his back, but to be greeted like a rock star savior by the packed Potomac ballroom that included constituents of all races, genders, age groups, and orientations.
Cruz started his speech by mocking Trump’s no-show: “So Donald Trump is skipping CPAC,” he said drolly, prompting a chorus of anti-Trump boos from the crowd. “I think somebody told him Megyn Kelly was going to be here. Or even worse, he was told there were conservatives that were going to be here!” The crowd roared in applause.
While Trump deemed it unimportant to have the ear of conservative America, Cruz had come home. He gave his typical stump speech, but he delivered it with a freshness and vibrancy as though he was giving it for the first time; and the crowd lapped it up.
Further evidence that Trump damaged himself with the base crowd was in the CPAC Straw Poll taken at the end of the conference. Ted Cruz won the straw poll nomination, Senator Marco Rubio was second, and Trump came in a distant third.
Trump’s no show was pretty much a proverbial “F. You” to the conservative base, and the base definitely has not, and will not forget.
Trump supposedly has tapped into the anger of the people; well, one of the things the people are really angry about is the “inevitable candidate syndrome”. From Jeb! to Hillary, the base hates this attitude of “I deserve this”, even more than they hate the Republican establishment.
Trump picking and choosing which audience is important and which is not worth his time echoes back to Mitt Romney’s 47 percent comment in the 2012 election. Writing off any constituency never works, and loses you elections. Elections have to be earned, and Trump shot himself in the foot by not treating the base as if he needed to earn their trust and vote.
The weekend caucuses of Kansas and Maine appear to be reflecting this, as Cruz has handily won Kansas, with double the votes projected, and looks to be closing the deal in Maine, eating away at Donald’s delegate count, and his air on inevitability.
When it comes to Donald Trump and the Republican establishment, Ted Cruz may well have the last laugh.
He who laughs last, laughs best.