Well, until last night’s interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, it seemed Donald Trump certainly cared a great deal about it. After a brief but gracious silver-medalist speech on Monday night, Trump spent the rest of the week raging on Twitter over Ted Cruz’ supposed “voter fraud,” demanding a do-over of the Iowa caucuses and investigations by the RNC. After a few days of what Cruz called a “Trumper-tanrum,” Trump now wants everyone to just get over it:
The day after accusing Ted Cruz of winning the Iowa caucuses unfairly and asking for a rematch in the state, Donald Trump says he’s now over it.
“I’m so much into this, into New Hampshire, that I just — I don’t care about that anymore,” Trump said in an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper in Manchester, just five days out from next Tuesday’s primary contest here. “This is the place I’m focused on now.” …
In Thursday’s sit-down with CNN, Trump said some “strange things” appeared to have happened in Iowa, and that the Cruz campaign’s actions likely hurt him more than Carson.
“I like Ben Carson very much and he got pretty roughed up, frankly,” Trump said. “Although it affected me maybe more than Ben.”
But Trump added: “Who cares?”
Go figure. The controversy didn’t do much for Trump, as his strong numbers may be eroding a bit, but raising the profile of Cruz and now Marco Rubio didn’t do the Republican frontrunner in the Granite State any favors. Suddenly, he’s the model of grace and charm, even joking with Anderson Cooper that he might trademark “Trumper-tantrum” because “I actually like that phrase.”
That’s not the only adjustment Trump has made this week. After getting outboxed in Iowa, Trump has suddenly begun doing more traditional retail campaigning in New Hampshire:
Throughout his campaign, Trump has largely avoided smaller, town hall-style events. But since coming in second place after Cruz in Iowa, Trump appears to be acknowledging the importance of retail politics and one-on-one time with voters.
Trump was initially set to hold two campaign events on Thursday. But late Wednesday, the campaign announced an additional three campaign stops, including the interview with CNN and a visit with local business leaders.
That’s a smart move, and one that shows that Trump can make adjustments on the fly. But is it too little, too late? Other campaigns, including both Cruz and Rubio as well as Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, and John Kasich, have invested significant time and effort in retail politicking in New Hampshire. That kind of organization takes a long time to build and requires a candidate who can offer that kind of access to individual voters. Trump has the personal resources to build that kind of effort, but at this stage he may not have the time, and the other campaigns may have already tied up the most effective resources.
Of course, Trump went into New Hampshire with a much bigger polling lead than he had in Iowa, and has more margin for error. A first-place finish will be a win no matter what, but if it’s a neck-and-neck finish with either Rubio, Cruz, or both, Trump’s biggest argument of being a guaranteed winner begins to look less and less realistic. With that in mind, Trump appears to have belatedly applied a little more discipline to his temperament and put more effort into actual campaigning as opposed to holding rallies. We’ll see if both of those hold up through Tuesday.