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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

GOP’s Day Three: Cruz Diss Dominates Headlines

No matter how much lipstick Trump’s spin doctors put on the pig, there’s no denying that Ted Cruz’s non-endorsement stole the show — and the headlines — describing day 3 of the GOP convention.

Cruz Speech Exposes Cracks in G.O.P.,” got the big headline type on the front page of the Thursday morning edition of the New York Times.

The Washington Post lead with “Attempt for unity falls short as Cruz upstages Pence.”

The  Los Angeles Times went with “Day 3 of the GOP convention restarts the war over conservatism.”

Ted Cruz Snubs Donald Trump: Vote Your Conscience” blared the headline at the Chicago Sun-Times.

At the host city’s portal, cleveland.com, it was “Ted Cruz gets booed, but he also gets the better of Donald Trump: Wednesday’s RNC takeaways.”

In his Thursday New York Times column, Frank Bruni summed it up,

…Cruz had made his point and done his damage, providing the latest (and most vivid) illustration of how little control Trump has been able to exert over his own coronation, how much rancor he has failed to exorcise, how few bridges he has succeeded in repairing, how far short he has fallen in making these four days in Cleveland as dazzling and exciting as he’d long promised they would be.

In other words, yet another day of botched opportunities and convention mismanagement under the stewardship of a candidate whose claim to fame is his business acumen.

Trump can’t be very happy with the way Cruz’s diss played out. He tried to spin-tweet it as an indication of his tolerance for free speech, since he claims he expected it. He may have been hoping for a last minute gesture of support from Cruz, despite the fact that Trump never apologized for implying that Cruz’s father was somehow involved in the Kennedy assassination, insulting Cruz’s wife or calling Cruz “Lying Ted.”

Veep nominee Pence nonetheless showed he has some public speaking chops and did a competent job of introducing himself and larding out unmerited praise of his running-mate. However, as Ed Kilgore noted at New York Magazine, “once again, Trump has lost control of his own convention. Pity poor Mike Pence, the ostensible headliner of the evening, whose introduction to the convention was already under the cloud of the Trump-Cruz confrontation — the only thing that people will be talking about in the hours after this session.”

Not much else was newsworthy on Day 3. Scott Walker was predictably ineffectual, while wingnut radio yakker Laura Ingraham generated some excitement, though she may want to work on her hand gestures.

Despite the mismanagement of the convention so far, tonight Trump delivers the most important speech of his political career. The suspense will be in how much he reads from the teleprompter script vs. going off on an extemporaneous rant. Trump is not very good at working the teleprompter, as was the GOP’s sainted Ronald Reagan. If the convention substance so far is any indication, his addresss will be long on Obama/Clinton-bashing, but very short on ideas.

Meanwhile, Clinton and her fellow Democrats can only be encouraged by President Obama’s improving approval rates, a pretty reliable indicator of the success of the party in the White House in upcoming elections.

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