The coming Cruz attack on Trump: Not only is he a fake conservative, he’s establishment all the way

posted at 3:21 pm on January 18, 2016 by Allahpundit

I called it a coming attack in the headline but maybe it’s already here. I noticed Cruz attacking Trump as a fake conservative over the weekend but didn’t notice him drilling down on Trump as a fake populist. Did I miss it? If it hasn’t happened yet, don’t worry. It will soon.

What got me thinking about this was Stephanopoulos asking Trump at the start of the clip I posted earlier whether it’s now a two-man race between him and Cruz. Trump’s answer: No, which is surprising given that he had talked about a developing two-man race less than a month ago on “Meet the Press.” Nothing’s changed in the polls since then to challenge that; on the contrary, Cruz has inched a bit higher while Rubio and the rest of the center-right candidates have remained flat. It’s more of a two-man race now than it was in December. Why won’t Trump acknowledge that? Partly, of course, it’s to diminish Cruz, but I wonder if it’s also part of a strategy to use Rubio to drag Cruz down. Whenever Trump talks about Cruz and immigration, he tends to lump him in with Rubio as both being weak on amnesty. (“Him and Marco Rubio have been fighting about who’s weaker.”) That’s a hard knock on Cruz given how big a problem immigration is for Rubio. When he was asked yesterday about whether Rubio might have his own eligibility problem because he was born in the U.S. to non-citizen parents — something that the strictest interpretations of birthright citizenship would say renders him ineligible — Trump surprisingly said no, distinguishing Rubio on grounds that, unlike Cruz, he really was born here.

Combine that with Trump’s relentless attacks on Cruz this weekend as being bought and sold by mega-rich interests like Goldman Sachs, an argument he’s used before on Rubio, and you can see the strategy emerge. Trump’s going to try to undermine Cruz on the right by portraying him as another Rubio, albeit with a weaker eligibility claim than Rubio has. Which, in fairness, is a smart play. The reason Cruz fans prefer him to Rubio is because they see him as more conservative, especially on immigration, and much, much more populist. Trump’s trying to call both of those credentials into question, which won’t work with hardcore Cruz fans but might raise an eyebrow among late-deciders in Iowa who are trying to decide between Cruz and Trump. If Cruz is just another Rubio, with bankers in his hip pocket, a questionable commitment to deporting illegals, and an eligibility issue to boot, why shouldn’t they go for Trump instead?

If Cruz wants to beat that, he needs to counterattack the same way. Calling Trump out as a fake conservative is job one, particularly for the benefit of late deciders in states with conservative GOP electorates like Iowa and the south. But that argument alone won’t do it. Plenty of Trump fans know all about his ideological travels; others may not know about it yet, but, not being very conservative themselves, won’t care when they finally find out. (Trump, wisely, noted Ronald Reagan’s journey from Democrat to Republican when asked about that this morning on Fox News.) If you want to kill Trump, you have to undercut his populist credentials. So long as he’s the supposed voice of the little guy, he’s a threat to win. Liam Donovan wrote a smart post about that this weekend to try to counter the idea that Trump is invincible. He’s not invincible, says Donovan. He simply hasn’t been hit hard yet because no one’s gone after his core strength, which is populism:

So how do you chip away at this rapport [with blue-collar voters]? You start by shattering the illusion that Trump is a friend of the little guy. To his credit, Trump possesses an uncanny ability to perceive, identify, and harness the wants and needs of the average Joe. The problem is that Trump takes this unique insight into the working class and exploits it for his own gain…

The bottom line is that you need to disabuse people of the notion that Trump is on their side. This is a con, and we are the collective mark. You do this by exposing his penchant for screwing over the little people- whether via Trump U, the Polish Brigade, Atlantic City, Kelo, or even H-2B visas, just pick your poison.

The key to this approach is not to explain, but to illustrate. Let the images speak for themselves- make it not about the issues, but about the people. Vera Coking and Wojciech Kozak need to be household names. If they aren’t in the spring, I can guarantee you they will be by the fall. Because if Republicans don’t step up and beat him themselves, the Clinton attacks on Trump will make Obama’s Romney playbook appear low energy by comparison.

Trump’s gift is his common touch, which is why he never has to put up with the “rich guy” crap that Romney did despite being worth many times what Romney is. Call his common touch into question among undecideds and the Trump engine breaks down. Given the available evidence, Cruz has a better shot of convincing Republican voters that Trump is a fake populist than Trump does of convincing them that Cruz is some sort of fake conservative.

As I say, this attack is coming soon from Cruz himself, certainly no later than the debate in Iowa on January 28th. (The “New York values” critique was a shot at Trump’s populism, not just his liberalism, but only obliquely.) Probably he’ll claim that Trump and Rubio have formed an informal alliance to attack him for their mutual benefit (which isn’t necessarily untrue), as that way he gets to use the same “tar the other guy with Rubio comparisons” move among his own supporters as Trump’s being using on Cruz with his. Look around conservative media and you’ll already find Cruz fans starting to push arguments against Trump’s populist cred. Here’s something Cruz fans were buzzing about on social media this weekend and which Cruz himself will be talking up eventually:

The developing feeling among House Republicans? Donald Trump is preferable to Ted Cruz.

“If you look at Trump’s actual policies, they’re pretty thin. There’s not a lot of meat there,” says one Republican member in Ryan’s inner circle, who requested anonymity to speak frankly about the two front-runners as leadership has carefully avoided doing all week. If Trump were to get the nomination, he would “be looking to answer the question: ‘Where’s the beef?’ And we will have that for him,” says the member.

Paul Ryan’s House Republican caucus wants President Trump because he’ll be easier to influence, huh? Here’s a telling headline from the Right Scoop that also anticipates how Team Cruz will answer Trump’s latest attacks:

rs

That criticism, that Trump is trying to use Cruz’s unpopularity with the hated GOP establishment as a knock against him, was also made by Mark Levin last month after Trump called Cruz a “maniac” for alienating his fellow senators. Levin hit Trump among similar lines this weekend, claiming that Trump is behaving like Mitch McConnell in attacking Cruz’s reputation. How can Trump be one of the populist good guys when he sounds like a Beltway bad guy?

This tweet, though, from radio talker and Cruz supporter Steve Deace, is my favorite shot at Trump so far:

I’d be surprised if Team Mitt decided to take a side in the Trump/Cruz war, but of course it’s to Cruz’s benefit for his fans to think that’s happening. Apart from John McCain endorsing Trump, what better way could there be to get populists questioning Trump than by hinting that the Romney braintrust is increasingly warm to him?

Via the Daily Rushbo, here’s Rush Limbaugh from the first hour of today’s show arguing that Trump’s making a mistake by attacking Cruz as a nasty guy. That’s significant, not because it’s an attack on Trump’s populism but because conservative talk radio (apart from Glenn Beck) has been conspicuously warm to Trump’s candidacy until now. If righty populists start smacking Trump for whatever reason, obviously that’s going to give their populist listeners pause. Exit question: Cruz spent the last six months insisting he’s glad that Trump ran this year because it crystallized how angry voters were at D.C. insiders. Trumpmania was the lightning rod for populist anger. How does he turn around now and claim that, oh, by the way, Trump’s sort of an insider himself?


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Comment pages: 1 4 5 6

How can the limitation of immigration by people who have never done any harm protect liberty?

TBSchemer on January 18, 2016 at 7:41 PM

And who determines this? By what mechanism do you and people like you select those “people who have never done any harm”?

tanked59 on January 18, 2016 at 9:03 PM

Please, Peter King has never made a true statement in his life. He is one of the worst of the New York totalitarians.

TBSchemer on January 18, 2016 at 8:41 PM

I wish he’d become a Democrat already. Peter King is pretty much a statist.

#NewYorkValues

Aizen on January 18, 2016 at 9:08 PM

As is typical of someone on the extreme losing end of a discussion, you keep yelling “squirrel” to deflect attention from your fatally flawed viewpoint.

Black citizens have all the rights of any other US citizen, so their can be no “banning blacks” from the country. Banning black immigrants, however would not be an issue and perfectly legal and acceptable if the proscribe a belief in killing others…..whether they have done so or not.

animal02 on January 18, 2016 at 8:59 PM

Does an immigrant have different inalienable human rights than a natural born US citizen?

TBSchemer on January 18, 2016 at 9:13 PM

TBSchemer on January 18, 2016

…and I do wish to thank you for bringing Thomas Jefferson into the conversation.

I wonder what his thoughts were about immigration…

tanked59 on January 18, 2016 at 9:13 PM

And who determines this? By what mechanism do you and people like you select those “people who have never done any harm”?

tanked59 on January 18, 2016 at 9:03 PM

Innocent until proven guilty, my friend. In a just society, the burden of proof is always on the accuser, not on the accused.

TBSchemer on January 18, 2016 at 9:14 PM

I wish he’d become a Democrat already. Peter King is pretty much a statist.

#NewYorkValues

Aizen on January 18, 2016 at 9:08 PM

Well said.

TBSchemer on January 18, 2016 at 9:15 PM

If it’s part of their shared religious ideology then it would indeed be an argument to not allow them into the country. Same with red, yellow, black, brown and white people who might share such a belief.

whatcat on January 18, 2016 at 8:53 PM

But support for murder isn’t a belief shared between all illegal immigrants, or even all Muslim immigrants. The vast majority of illegal immigrants and Muslim immigrants in this country have never committed murder, and have no intention to.

TBSchemer on January 18, 2016 at 9:17 PM

In a just society, the burden of proof is always on the accuser, not on the accused.

TBSchemer on January 18, 2016 at 9:14 PM

No problem.

The law says to come into the US through a legal process. They didn’t. They’re guilty.

lineholder on January 18, 2016 at 9:18 PM

No problem.

The law says to come into the US through a legal process. They didn’t. They’re guilty.

lineholder on January 18, 2016 at 9:18 PM

We should make the legal process easier, more efficient, and remove the arbitrary caps on number of immigrants.

TBSchemer on January 18, 2016 at 9:20 PM

And who determines this? By what mechanism do you and people like you select those “people who have never done any harm”?

tanked59 on January 18, 2016 at 9:03 PM

Innocent until proven guilty, my friend. In a just society, the burden of proof is always on the accuser, not on the accused.

TBSchemer on January 18, 2016 at 9:14 PM

‘Unfettered immigration’…Simple, this all you had to say…

tanked59 on January 18, 2016 at 9:20 PM

We should make the legal process easier, more efficient, and remove the arbitrary caps on number of immigrants.

TBSchemer on January 18, 2016 at 9:20 PM

That isn’t the current basis on which they would be judged.

But nice try at moving the goal posts.

lineholder on January 18, 2016 at 9:21 PM

‘Unfettered immigration’…Simple, this all you had to say…

tanked59 on January 18, 2016 at 9:20 PM

Because the government is so great at making choices when they regulate the economy, right? So we should let them arbitrarily choose who can and can’t move here too, right?

TBSchemer on January 18, 2016 at 9:22 PM

I agree, how could anybody be against epidemic gang murder and gang rape committed by harmless liberty lovers?

whatcat on January 18, 2016 at 8:49 PM

It is comical watching the tap dancing.

animal02 on January 18, 2016 at 9:01 PM

Tap dancing and PCness go hand in hand. (foot in foot?)

whatcat on January 18, 2016 at 9:23 PM

That isn’t the current basis on which they would be judged.

But nice try at moving the goal posts.

lineholder on January 18, 2016 at 9:21 PM

I would be perfectly okay with imposing a fine on every illegal immigrant if it came in a bill that eliminated the arbitrary caps and limitations on legal immigration.

TBSchemer on January 18, 2016 at 9:24 PM

No problem.

The law says to come into the US through a legal process. They didn’t. They’re guilty.

lineholder on January 18, 2016 at 9:18 PM

We should make the legal process easier, more efficient, and remove the arbitrary caps on number of immigrants.

TBSchemer on January 18, 2016 at 9:20 PM

Hilarious! Drop back 20 and PUNT!

tanked59 on January 18, 2016 at 9:24 PM

Does an immigrant have different inalienable human rights than a natural born US citizen?

TBSchemer on January 18, 2016 at 9:13 PM

Immigration is not an inalienable right.

animal02 on January 18, 2016 at 9:26 PM

Immigration is not an inalienable right.

animal02 on January 18, 2016 at 9:26 PM

Liberty is. Liberty means I don’t have to justify to the government why I want to buy a piece of property from a willing seller and move there.

TBSchemer on January 18, 2016 at 9:40 PM

Liberty is. Liberty means I don’t have to justify to the government why I want to buy a piece of property from a willing seller and move there.

TBSchemer on January 18, 2016 at 9:40 PM

You are free to buy the property….. you just cannot move there.

Immigration is not an inalienable right.

You fail once again.

animal02 on January 18, 2016 at 10:00 PM

You are free to buy the property….. you just cannot move there.

Immigration is not an inalienable right.

You fail once again.

animal02 on January 18, 2016 at 10:00 PM

Only in a society that happily violates the inalienable liberty of humans.

You sound like the Democrats who think they’re still respecting the 2nd Amendment when they pass laws saying you can’t ever take your gun out of your home.

TBSchemer on January 18, 2016 at 10:02 PM

It will be amusing watching…Mr. Goldman-Sachs loan – Unlimited H1-B’s – Votes in favor of TPA – Squishy on illegal immigration Senator Cruz try to paint Donald Trump as the “establishment” candidate.

Not to mention that the GOPe has done everything but hire a hit man to get rid of him.

bluesdoc70 on January 18, 2016 at 10:08 PM

Only in a society that happily violates the inalienable liberty of humans.

You sound like the Democrats who think they’re still respecting the 2nd Amendment when they pass laws saying you can’t ever take your gun out of your home.

TBSchemer on January 18, 2016 at 10:02 PM

Another “squirrel” post from TBS

Despite all your foot stomping. Immigration has NEVER been an inalienable right.

animal02 on January 18, 2016 at 10:22 PM

Only in a society that happily violates the inalienable liberty of humans.

There is no right to membership. There never has been, thus we are free to deny movement to whoever and whenever we want.

nobar on January 18, 2016 at 10:25 PM

Liberty means I don’t have to justify to the government why I want to buy a piece of property from a willing seller and move there.

TBSchemer on January 18, 2016 at 9:40 PM

What?
Where do you live that you are asked why you want to buy a piece of property?

Mimzey on January 18, 2016 at 10:26 PM

It will be effective because it’s true. There is no reason to think Trump is a conservative.

Trump’s bizarre plans for 45% tariffs and banning Muslims citizens from entering the country are only popular with the Blue Dogs who exited the Democrats after 2010, and his verbal antics are an affront to the dignity of the office.

I’m all for a big tent party, but that doesn’t mean we have to nominate Bozo the Clown for leader of the free world.

TallDave on January 18, 2016 at 11:57 PM

What?
Where do you live that you are asked why you want to buy a piece of property?

Mimzey on January 18, 2016 at 10:26 PM

Another “squirrel” post from TBS

Despite all your foot stomping. Immigration has NEVER been an inalienable right.

animal02 on January 18, 2016 at 10:22 PM

TBSchemer on January 19, 2016 at 1:13 AM

Reading comprehension is obviously another area that TBS is lacking.

animal02 on January 19, 2016 at 1:42 AM

Trump is “establishment,” all right – but he’s Democratic establishment, not Republican.

Adjoran on January 19, 2016 at 5:11 AM

Oh well Ted. After Sarah Palin’s endorsement not too many people are going to believe your BS that Trump is establishment. Not a very good day for you today,huh pal?

redware on January 19, 2016 at 8:34 PM

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