The Corner

Understanding Ted Cruz’s Strategic Dilemma

In response to Fox, Fyi

Fred, in the absence of an agreement with Rubio that he’ll endorse Ted Cruz and drop out after Florida — or in the absence of a mutual agreement to cooperate to deny Trump delegates — what is Cruz to do? After all, the current four-person dynamic has mainly served to put Trump in a commanding lead despite earning only 37 percent of the total popular vote. As the race moves into more winner-take-all states, that 37 percent will give him 100 percent of the delegates time and again. If Rubio and Kasich win Florida and Ohio, it will slow Trump’s march to the nomination, but it could also represent a classic case of winning the battle yet losing the war.

At this point, if each candidate acts in their perceived self-interest, Trump almost certainly wins the nomination. Cruz, however, at least has a fighting chance to stop Trump. My piece wasn’t arguing that we should support Cruz because he’s the most altruistic of the anti-Trump candidates but because he’s clearly separated himself from Rubio and Kasich, the delegate math works far more in his favor, and — crucially — he’s a candidate of true conservative conviction. In other words, I’m calling for sacrifices from Kasich and Rubio because their respective quests for the presidency are worse than hopeless — they’re quickly becoming destructive. If Kasich and Rubio fall on their swords, there is a chance to stop Trump. If Cruz allows the present dynamic to continue, however, that hope vanishes.

In short, I don’t like that Rubio and Cruz are competing in Florida, but I don’t blame Cruz. 

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