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Hullabaloo


Thursday, July 21, 2016

 

Now they've got a taste for it

by Tom Sullivan

Last night was supposed to be Gov. Mike Pence's night to accept the nomination as Donald Trump's vice president. Instead it belonged to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. Once it became clear Cruz would not endorse Trump, Republican convention delegates who had hit their stride in chanting "Lock her up!" at Hillary Clinton drowned out the finish of Cruz's speech in a chorus of boos. Even from Texas.

In a smart, calculated speech last night in Cleveland, Cruz thumbed his nose at both the Republican standard bearer and Trump supporters in the hall. He stole the spotlight while keeping his distance from Trump, advising people to vote in November and to "vote their conscience." Heidi Cruz had to be escorted from the floor of the convention. Trump supporters were "approaching in a threatening manner," according to a report in Al Jazeera. Convention headlines this morning are peppered once again with the word chaos.

Josh Marshall noted that Trump's team had clearly seen the speech ahead of time, but seemed caught off guard by its effect on the crowd.

Alan Fisher observes at Al Jazeera (emphasis mine):

Trump tweeted that he saw the speech two hours before it was delivered and saw no reason to stop Cruz going ahead.

Why on earth would he let Ted Cruz speak without securing an endorsement? Why would he take such a risk? The campaign shouldn't have been so sloppy and unprofessional. Trump has made a virtue of running an unorthodox campaign and not using traditional political methods.

It's worked until now. But when such a mistake is made, it risks harming everything he's worked for to this point. And it's not the first mistake this week. There was the mishandling of the announcement of Trump's running mate Mike Pence, and the plagiarism row over a speech by this wife, Melania Trump.

The Cruz debacle sucked the energy and focus from the big set-piece speech by Pence, Trump's vice presidential pick.
But that's just the point. This is a campaign that has made being sloppy and unprofessional a Trump trademark. The last three days of this convention have proven that. It is a campaign with no clue as to how to govern and with no real interest in it. If Ohio Gov. John Kasich is to be believed, Trump's team offered to make him vice president and in charge of both domestic and foreign policy. That would leave Trump free to be in charge of "making America great again."

Trump could clearly use the help. In a New York Times interview released yesterday, Trump's response to whether he would defend NATO countries from a Russian attack was, essentially, he would have to think about it.

It's troubling to admit it, but in some sense, last night Ted Cruz may have taken the high road.