Trump campaign releases nasty post-Wisconsin statement - does itself no favors

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Published by: Robert Laurie on Wednesday April 06th, 2016

Wrong move.

UPDATE: Just like that, the Washington Post is reporting that Trump is planning a series of "more formal" policy speeches over the next two weeks.  

Among the topics he will address are how to strengthen the nation's military, specific education reforms and the criteria by which a President Trump would select Supreme Court justices. The campaign hopes to stage those speeches in settings such as economic clubs in various cities and possibly the National Press Club in Washington, Lewandowski said.

Lewandowski insisted that the speeches do not represent a new strategy or course correction, but rather, "the natural maturation of the campaign."

That's welcome news, and we're all ears. 

Last night in Wisconsin, Ted Cruz crushed Donald Trump. That's not a pile-on, it's just the truth. Trump suffered a big defeat in an important state. The good news for him is that the next primary state is New York, where he should do pretty well.  The bad news is that we're two weeks from that vote, and that's a lot of time to make mistakes.

The other day, I wrote that Trump was destroying himself with unforced errors. If he wants to reverse his fortunes it's critical that he put a lid on his uglier instincts, bone up on issues, and refocus his efforts. Last night, his campaign released a post-loss statement that was, well, just read it...

Donald J. Trump withstood the onslaught of the establishment yet again. Lyin’ Ted Cruz had the Governor of Wisconsin, many conservative talk radio show hosts, and the entire party apparatus behind him. Not only was he propelled by the anti-Trump Super PAC’s spending countless millions of dollars on false advertising against Mr. Trump, but he was illegally coordinating with his own Super PAC’s (which is illegal) who totally control him. Ted Cruz is worse than a puppet—he is a Trojan horse, being used by the party bosses attempting to steal the nomination from Mr. Trump. We had total confidence that Mr. Trump will go on to win in New York, where he holds a substantial lead in all the polls, and beyond. Mr. Trump is the only candidate who can secure the delegates needed to win the Republican nomination and ultimately defeat Hillary Clinton, or whomever is the Democratic nominee, in order to Make America Great Again.

Trump claims to understand that the key to his future success is to be more presidential and more dignified. Yet this was his response to the voters in Wisconsin? First of all, even if we buy the argument that Wisconsin's results were due to a GOP Elite onslaught, it's hard to see how he "withstood" it.

More importantly, that's simply not the case.  Yes, forces were arrayed against him, but that's the nature of primaries - it's the point of primaries. Of course his opponents did their best to unravel him. They're trying to win, just as he is. 

Had Trump lost by a couple of points, his claim of victimhood would feel a lot more believable. But it wasn't GOP Elites that undid Trump in Wisconsin, and this wasn't a narrow defeat. Trump lost among almost every single demographic group, often by double digits.

Yet, instead of acknowledging that, admitting that something's gone wrong, and vowing to do better, voters were offered the statement above.

Whether you're a Trump supporter or a hater is irrelevant. This isn't an argument about his qualifactions or abilities. It's about political success. The reality is, Trump has enjoyed unprecidented enthusiasm among the already-faithful, but the nastiness his statement contains is precisely the sort of thing that's preventing him from achieving broader support. Fair or unfair, at this point that's simply undeniable.

The smart play would be to disappear for a day or two, rejigger his campaign, study up on the issues, release a new batch of policy positions, and re-emerge as a stronger, sharper, more presidential candidate. If the Trump campaign continues on its current course, it will only dig a deeper hole.

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