This is coming from someone who helped to run Ted Cruz’s campaign — so make sure you read this all the way to the end. This could be a future lesson to all who want a true conservative in the White House. Also, note that this comes from a publisher that does not endorse, or is friendly to, Trump.
Here is the bulk of an April 24 memorandum from Rich Danker, a bright young conservative operative who ran the Lone Star Committee, an independent expenditure effort on behalf of Ted Cruz. Danker’s insights go beyond his analysis of the 2016 Republican race, and are a helpful guide to any independent candidacy that may be necessary if Trump prevails. Danker has given permission for this part of his memorandum (his analysis of the race) to be reproduced.
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To: Lone Star Committee supporters & interested parties
From: Rich Danker, Lone Star Committee founder
Date: April 24, 2016
Re: The 2016 Republican race
For those of you who have supported the Lone Star Committee’s independent expenditures and operations, I want to give you an overview of what we did, how it contrasted with other organizations’ efforts, and most importantly, how and why I believe the race has run its course with Donald Trump besting Ted Cruz as the presumptive GOP nominee. This includes an analysis of Cruz and Trump’s respective strategies, especially in the critical early voting states where we played a role.
Cruz tended to give the same stump speech at every appearance. Although he spoke without notes (a skill developed from his experience as a trial lawyer), the material in his speeches tended not to differ no matter the setting. He also sounded in part like a Baptist preacher (his father’s vocation). This produced an oratory style that led Ryan Lizza to observe in the New Yorker, “Cruz delivers every sentence, no matter how generic, as if he imagines himself reciting the Gettysburg Address.” Tough, but true.
Trump gave exclusively extemporaneous remarks at each rally. This gave him the ability to comment at each stop on what was happening that day in the news, which led to more earned media. Although his speaking style is prone to repetition, these performances were appealing enough that most of his events outdrew GOP rivals, including Cruz, by a factor of about 20-1. Trump insisted on large rallies at venues like airplane hangers and arenas; the others stuck to old traditions of working voters over in diners and at house parties. The only candidate whose speeches cable news regularly aired live was Trump.
If you had described these two approaches to any professional in politics before the campaign started, they would have predicted Trump to fail spectacularly. This is what most prognosticators like Nate Silver on the left and Karl Rove on the right did. They would have thought it insane that his approach – never mind his persona – would actually serve to make him the frontrunner. Trump threw out virtually every teaching in the rulebook of how to run for president.
Cruz, on the other hand, ran a very professional campaign and probably stuck closest to the rulebook of all 17 GOP candidates when it came to each category of campaign strategy. His use of data analytics to microtarget and ability to field a ground game were also highly praised in the political media, with glowing stories of Cruz’s “secret army” of superPAC canvassers and “Camp Cruz,” a makeshift dorm for his volunteers.
So what happened? I believe Trump ran a better campaign than Cruz for two reasons:
1) Republican voters not only wanted an outsider candidate for president, they wanted that candidate to campaign like an outsider
2) The conventional strategies and tactics on running in the presidential primary had become so stale that an outsider with disdain for professional politics found a new way to win using common sense
Trump’s simple, straightforward strategy of trying to win in every state, take as much free media as possible, have an inclusion attitude toward getting voters, and appear in front of as many people as possible proved to be sledgehammer against the old way. And unlike just about every other past self-funder, Trump did not let his campaign take him for a ride.
Read more: The Weekly Standard