Ronald Reagan ran positive anti-establishment campaigns in 1976 and 1980, without personally attacking his opponents, while all of his opponents personally attacked him. Today, Senator Ted Cruz is doing exactly the same thing… and it’s working.
Donald Trump, on the other hand, has been the most aggressive in levying personal attacks against other candidates, resulting in the highest unfavorable ratings of any Republican in the field and the best overall numbers in the polls. John Kasich (3rd highest unfavorables) and Rand Paul have run deliberately negative campaigns as well, each struggling to get ahead, despite having natural constituencies within the Republican Party. Governor Christie and Lyndsey Graham have run negative campaigns, but their attacks have been directly primarily, if not solely, against Senator Rand Paul.
Trump aside (who attracts people who love his bravado) – this strategy has failed for every other candidate.
Jeb Bush (2nd highest unfavorables) has attacked Donald Trump repeatedly, but this seems more like self-defense and desperation than mean-spiritedness, and I doubt that Jeb! has taken any loses on account of his jabs. In fact, on occasion, I’ve appreciated them. Nonetheless, Jeb’s personal attacks on Donald Trump have failed to help in him the polls.
Rick Santorum has reserved most of his attacks for Senator Ted Cruz, who he seems to hate for some unexplainable reason, but has been relatively nice to the other candidates. Mike Huckabee ran a largely positive campaign, refusing to attack Trump and quickly backing up Senator Cruz against a common enemy (the media), but this primary cycle has been hard on candidates running for a second time. Ben Carson has been nice and forgettable.
The reason our candidates should not personally attack each other is because eventually one of them will be the nominee. I cannot imagine that any supporter of Jeb Bush, Carly Fiorina, or Marco Rubio would ever vote for Trump in a general election. They are all much too disgusted with his attacks on their favorite candidates.
Rand Paul supporters, certainly, will never vote for Donald Trump for any reason. Satan himself could rise up through the earth, declare his intention to slaughter all of mankind, and he would still be less despised by the Rand Paul people after Trump suggested that someone in Kentucky should primary the Senator in 2016. And I don’t blame them!
There should have been no reason why these Republicans ought to have gone negative so quickly. Fox News and CNN could smell blood in the air and they gave these Republican Candidates every opportunity to skin one another alive.
Ted Cruz never took the bait.
For that, he was punished with hardly any time to speak during the first two debates. That wasn’t a problem for the Senator from Texas, as his fellow candidates ruined one another’s reputations and made more enemies than friends within the party. Ted Cruz is now polling second in almost every poll, in nearly every State that matters. There is some opposition to the Senator, especially from the Republican Establishment (Bush, Kasich, Christie crowds), the far-right wing (the Santorum Crowd), and the libertarian wing (primarily Rand Paul voters who are angry that Ted Cruz, by running a quality campaign, stole all the money, endorsements, and volunteers they thought were theirs).
Despite all of that, he’s “everyone’s” second favorite. His positive message has earned him one of the strongest volunteer and organizational structures of any of the Republican Nominees. He’s raising more money than anyone. He’s getting more endorsements than anyone and fewer Republicans, when asked, say that they would not support him than any other candidate. Rubio’s smear campaign against Cruz on immigration has destroyed much of the good will Rubio previously enjoyed.
When Ted Cruz wins the nomination, he will have won it without creating enemies he didn’t already have. If Donald Trump wins the nomination, the Republican Party will likely never recover. By the time Donald Trump is done mocking, ridiculing, insulting, and making fun of everyone else’s favorite candidate, only the die-hard, celebrity-enamored Trump fans will bother showing up to vote.
Ted Cruz is good for America, good for the Republican Party, and the right man for the job of President. I know it’s bad out there, but now isn’t the time for hate, anger, and fear. Now is the time for strength, courage, and optimism. Now is the time for Ted Cruz.