What strange bedfellows and broken pretzels politics do make!
Mere weeks ago, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas pressured Ohio Gov. John Kasich to get out of the race for the Republican nomination because he had no mathematical chance of winning.
“If you want to stop Donald Trump, there is only one campaign and only one candidate who has done so repeatedly and who has any plausible path to do so,” Mr. Cruz told a local Utah television station before that state’s contest last month.
“For Kasich, it’s mathematically impossible,” said Mr. Cruz, curling himself into a pretzel that has since hardened and just crumbled into little pieces this week.
That is because now the exact same thing can be said of Mr. Cruz and his hopeless campaign.
As of this week, it is mathematically impossible for Mr. Cruz to reach the 1,237 delegates needed to clinch the Republican nomination. His only hope at this point is if he can sway enough unpledged delegates to his camp.
According to Mr. Cruz’s logic from last month, real estate developer Donald Trump — the only candidate with a path to the nomination — is the only Republican who should remain in the race.
The fiery Texas debater has carefully crafted his political image as a man of extreme principle, but don’t hold your breath that he will be taking any of the advice he was pushing on Mr. Kasich four weeks ago.
That was then, you know. This is now. That was for John Kasich, not Ted Cruz.
No, Mr. Cruz is now fully engaged in the dark arts of whipping unbound delegates into his camp. But hope for even that strategy is dwindling fast.
Today, Mr. Cruz’s only realistic hope is that he can scrounge up enough delegates so that, in the end, Mr. Trump will have fallen short of winning the majority of Republican delegates in a primary race that started out with 17 candidates.
Then, Mr. Cruz will get to work on a strategy he is uniquely suited for. One that only a legendary college debater and member of the world’s “greatest deliberative body” could master.
The dark, dark art of delegate wrangling in smoke-filled backrooms at a political convention.
Already Mr. Cruz has proven himself the master of winning the voterless “election” in places like Colorado. The closed primaries and murky state caucuses is where he shines the best.
The problem is that these very accomplishments are precisely what makes Mr. Cruz such a liability in a general election. The man bills himself as an outsider, yet he emerges from the bowels of the most exclusive insider club in the civilized world: the U.S. Senate.
In the course of this long-running, tumultuous primary fight, one thing not a single voter has stood up and said is: “We need someone who can work the system and lobby the smoke-filled backrooms of a convention hall in order to gather the most delegates in the fourth round of voting!”
No. But millions have turned out and voted enthusiastically for a true political outsider. And while Donald Trump may not get the 1,237 delegates needed to clinch the nomination, he is likely to get very close.
In any event, he is the only candidate left for whom it is mathematically possible.
• Charles Hurt can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter via @charleshurt.