Politics & Policy

Trump and Cruz: A Tale of Two Campaigns, One of Which Is Competent

Ted and Heidi Cruz at a campaign stop in New York City, April 6, 2016. (Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty)

Earlier this week, the Washington Post released an “Internal Campaign Memorandum” penned by Trump campaign senior adviser Barry Bennett. Entitled “Digging through the Bull S[***]” and addressed to “Corey and Team,” the memo reads less like an internal communiqué than a fundraising e-mail sent to the wrong people:

So this week the Media and the Washington Establishment bashed the campaign with energy yet ever seen against a Republican candidate. You name the medium and it was dominated with Trump Attacks. The media themselves couldn’t wait to label the week, “THE WORST WEEK EVER.”

D.C. Pundits scurried to the networks to proclaim the end was at hand for Donald Trump.

Yet another pathetic display by the so called experts who line their pockets at the expense of our candidates and causes.

So what is the result of their efforts this week? Here it is . . . 

Bennett then quotes Reuters’s tracking poll, scolds the “Washington Establishment” once more for its “idiotic attacks,” and concludes: “Donald Trump 1 Washington Establishment/Media 0.”

Campaigns are grueling, and higher-ups sometimes have to boost staffers’ spirits. But one gets the sense that Bennett isn’t writing as one professional to others, but as one member of a cult proselytizing to other true believers. Note the Trump-style capitalization that makes monolithic, omnipotent forces out of the press and federal officeholders. Have you ever wondered what a cabinet meeting of the North Korean government feels like?

For those of us who have long maintained that the Trump campaign doesn’t operate in anything remotely resembling reality, the last week has offered confirmation.

RELATED: Ted Cruz Is Surging by Design

On Tuesday, Politico reported that the Trump campaign is “increasingly falling into disarray,” conducting massive layoffs and dismantling what little infrastructure it has, including in key general-election states such as Ohio and Florida. The campaign’s data team is now partly in the hands of “a 2015 college graduate whose last job was an internship with the consumer products company Colgate-Palmolive,” wrote Politico, adding: “Some of the campaign’s data remains inaccessible.” For those tracking the Trump campaign, it’s something of a surprise that there is data to speak of at all. As of February, they were not deigning to conduct internal polls.

Then, on Wednesday, Politico augmented its tale of woe, reporting that the Trump campaign is embroiled in a power struggle between campaign manager Corey Lewandowski (who two weeks ago was charged with misdemeanor battery in Florida) and Paul Manafort, the veteran Republican operative hired last month to be Trump’s convention manager. According to Politico, Lewandowski recently sacked the man in charge of Trump’s Colorado operation because he disobeyed Lewandowski and communicated with Manafort directly. The campaign now has no state chair. Meanwhile, insiders say that Manafort has been considering leaving the campaign if he does not receive more support. (On Thursday, Trump announced that he was “consolidating the functions related to the nomination process and assigning them” to Manafort — perhaps an attempt to demonstrate support.) Lewandowski, as is his way, denies all, maintaining that Trump has “the most cohesive, loyal staff, the most loving staff I have ever had the privilege of working with on a campaign.”

#share#Contrast this with the Cruz campaign, which has been almost entirely free of such problems. Cruz’s team has been working tirelessly to secure delegates who will be likely to turn to him on a second or third vote at a contested convention. Those efforts have been sufficiently fruitful that, for instance, Cruz is apt to walk away with ten more delegates than Trump in Louisiana — a state that Trump won. Cruz swept both of the Colorado congressional districts that held their conventions this week, securing six more delegates for July, and an unaffiliated alternate delegate from Arapahoe County told MSNBC’s Benjy Sarlin that Cruz’s ground game is “extraordinary.” Likewise, a Republican operative in Arizona says that Cruz’s is the only campaign organizing aggressively in the state.

RELATED: After Wisconsin, Is Donald Trump Unraveling?

Cruz is also having marked success getting delegates friendly to him on the convention’s key committees — see, again, Louisiana. Apparently, Trump did not know that he had been outmaneuvered by Cruz at Louisiana’s state convention until the results were reported by the Wall Street Journal.

#related#To this must be added the fact that the Cruz campaign managed to adapt its strategy mid-race after Trump’s surprise victories in the South earlier in the primary season — states that, with their large numbers of Evangelicals, were supposed to be Cruz strongholds. The Cruz campaign didn’t flail; it pivoted, successfully shifting its firewall to the Midwest and the Mountain West. Now, after a resounding victory in Wisconsin, Cruz is within reach of shutting out Trump in Indiana and Nebraska. If he can win a few pockets of delegates along the way, Trump will be kept under the 1,237 threshold.

Two more different campaigns would be difficult to find. Cruz seems to have surrounded himself with knowledgeable, capable professionals operating quietly but confidently behind the scenes to win him the election. Trump’s campaign, by contrast, seems to be a whirlwind of incompetence and egotism that has not flown apart only because of the centripetal force of the personality at its center. And there is no reason to believe that Trump’s campaign will continue to be anything but chaotic, fractious, and inept.

The Clinton juggernaut looms, and only one of these organizations has demonstrated the wherewithal to take it on.

Ian Tuttle — Ian Tuttle is the former Thomas L. Rhodes Journalism Fellow at the National Review Institute.

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