At Politico, Shane Goldmatcher writes that there is a new target in tomorrow night’s debate:
Hollow or not, Donald Trump’s threat to boycott the final GOP forum before Iowa votes has complicated Ted Cruz’s game plan, forcing the Texan to prepare for two different debates — one in which he tangles directly with the front-runner and another that sets up the senator as the largest target on stage.
Given recent speeches by leading establishment GOP leaders (and an outlier poll that suggest Jeb’s all out assault on Marco Rubio might be pulling dividends in NH).
This sets up a chance for an all out assaults on Ted Cruz by the GOP to the benefit of Donald Trump which given their hatred of Cruz makes a lot of sense.
Since the party has designed its early primary structure/rues to favor an early leader in the belief that said leader would be a Jeb Bush or if you’re a really radical member of the GOP establishment John Kasich they recognize that if Donald Trump early lead is the polls is correct he’s going to be hard to stop, so the GOP has pragmatically decided they’d might as well get in line now.
Furthermore win or lose Trump has the dynamic that Mike Bloomberg had in NY. A lot of left leaning activists etc were VERY careful going up against him as mayor because they knew eventually he would be out of office and they would be coming hat in hand for money. A lot of people in the party know they will be wanting some of that Trump money later and don’t want to do anything that will cut them off from that source. (In fact we see this dynamic in the “please show up” BS coming from Fox).
And of course as I said the day after Mr. Trump announced, if you’re a GOP office holder and potential candidate do you really want to swing at a counterpuncher with a billion dollars and a long memory?
One might think that Trump’s debate move is strategic (it is). One might think it’s a long term mistake (it also is) but one can’t deny that the one thing he has done is read the GOP establishment like a book and used both the “rules” and their nature to his advantage, forcing the GOP to go along.
However the party is forgetting the price on the other side of this choice but that’s a later post.