The Corner

Politics & Policy

For Anti-Cruz GOP Strategists, ‘Emotion Is Trumping Strategy’

Over in the National Journal, Josh Kraushaar offers an eye-opening anecdote about the thinking of unidentified “senior strategists” advising “establishment-minded” Republicans:

Would they rather see Ted Cruz or Don­ald Trump win the Iowa caucuses, as­sum­ing none of the more mod­er­ate can­did­ates pre­vail?

In an in­form­al sur­vey of seni­or GOP strategists, the clear win­ner was Trump. Their ar­gu­ments were reasoned but un­der­scored: a) how they’re still un­der­es­tim­at­ing Trump; and b) how much they per­son­ally hate Cruz to the point where emo­tion is trump­ing strategy.

Kraushaar points out that if Trump wins Iowa, the one state where he’s been trailing in the polls, he obviously has a good shot at winning everywhere else he’s leading – New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida and beyond.

If Kraushaar is accurate, and some establishment-minded GOP strategists are letting their personal pique against Cruz shape their thinking — and perhaps strategic advice – they deserve every bit of criticism they’re getting, and every bit of bad fortune coming their way. Behind closed doors, the candidate can afford to fume, hold grudges, and vent his emotions; the job of the strategist is to see things clearly. If you let your emotions dictate your actions, and disregard what is actually in your interest at that particular moment, you turn into the Cincinnati Bengals.

The outlook for any “establishment” candidate that doesn’t win New Hampshire is pretty grim. If those candidates’ advisors are really letting resentments, feuds and private tempers shape their advice and decisions, they’re doomed. 

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