Make Donald Trump’s Delegate Team Great Again

Make Donald Trump’s Delegate Team Great Again

In a search of the 5 year archive of editions of The Transom, I find only one mention of Matt Drudge personally – a rebuttal of his boldfaced report that Mitt Romney intended to select Condoleezza Rice as his surprise Vice Presidential pick in 2012.  At the time, I wrote that this was another example of how the Drudge Report’s “reporting” was “full of it”.

Drudge’s devotion to accuracy has not improved in the intervening four years. His headlines this morning are as shrill and true-ish as a series of Donald Trump tweets. The large one: “FURY AS COLORADO HAS NO PRIMARY OR CAUCUS; CRUZ CELEBRATES VOTERLESS VICTORY.” The smaller ones: “SHOCK: Republicans cancel presidential election in CO… Voters burn registrations in protest…  1 MILLION REPUBLICANS SIDELINED… PAPER: GOP made big mistake…”  There is full of it, and then there is being so in the tank you’re living in the little castle with the fake treasure chest.

There are people who agree with Matt Drudge about this depiction of what happened in Colorado. These people are exclusively in the camp or employ of Team Donald Trump. And they do so despite the fact that Colorado used a convention process to select delegates that everyone has known about for months, a method Trump’s team bungled completely this weekend, losing all 34 delegate slots to Ted Cruz.

Trump’s hastily assembled delegate-chasing operation, which had been optimistic about the state, bumbled through a series of votes and came out empty there. In an interview Sunday morning on ‘Meet the Press,’ Trump’s newly promoted convention manager, Paul Manafort, accused Cruz of ‘Gestapo tactics.’ The Cruz campaign, which describes its convention wins as proof of momentum, responded with mockery. ‘It’s no surprise that Trump’s team will lash out with falsehoods to distract from their failure,’ said Cruz communications director Alice Stewart. ‘We have earned our success by working hard to build a superior organization.’

How terribly did the Trump team mismanage their delegate slate? Last week they fired their organizer and hired a new one, who promptly made an official flier which sent votes to the wrong delegates.

After firing the organizer initially put in charge of Colorado last week, Trump’s team hired Patrick Davis, a GOP operative from Colorado Springs, to put together a slate in an effort to win some of the delegate slots to be elected by just fewer than 4,000 party activists at Saturday’s assembly… Trump’s last-minute organizing effort did not go well. The leaflet his campaign handed out listed a slate of 26 delegates. But in many cases the numbers indicating their ballot position — more than 600 delegates are running for 13 slots — were off, meaning that Trump’s team was mistakenly directing votes toward other candidates’ delegates.

And even when they tried to fix the screw-up, they still failed to get it right.

“The mistakes were exposed at the worst possible moment. . . Trump volunteers frantically printed new lists with new names and ballot numbers – but those lists also had mistakes.”

To the “Gestapo tactics” point, given that Paul Manafort has no problem going straight to the Nazi well: There have been plenty of examples of Ted Cruz being a savvy tactician during the 2016 cycle, but this Colorado disaster for Trump was not one of them, any more than Trump irritating everyone on the abortion issue was Cruz’s fault, or Trump driving up his negatives with women to “you will never get this rose” territory was Cruz’s fault. This is another own-goal where America’s king of the deal seems uninterested in doing the actual work to make the deal happen. Even a modicum of preparation could’ve landed Trump several delegates from Colorado – instead, he and his team appear uninterested in doing the work everyone has been reporting for weeks that they need to do in order to win.

For their part, the Trump team is vowing to win a delegate majority before the convention.  But they have now experienced serious setbacks in South Carolina, Iowa, Indiana, North Dakota, North Carolina, Tennessee, Louisiana, South Dakota, and Georgia.  In each of these cases, Trump’s setbacks would not have been as significant if he had simply paid attention to how the delegate process works. He now looks to his home state for salvation and his first win in a month, while Cruz will look to peel delegates from Trump in New York by denying him majorities in a few congressional districts. One thing that might’ve helped Trump is to look ahead to this contest by getting his voters to register Republican by the necessary deadline. But they didn’t even bother to do that for his own kids.

Ben Domenech is the publisher of The Federalist. Sign up for a free trial of his daily newsletter, The Transom.
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