- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 5, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

No matter what happens on Tuesday night, one thing is for sure: Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has run one heck of a campaign.

Weeks before the Iowa caucus, when Donald Trump was stealing the headlines with his outrageous comments and bombast, Mr. Cruz was quietly putting together the final touches of his ground game — one that his campaign had been working on months in advance.

Mr. Cruz’s team leveraged data collected on the Internet, and through volunteers, on social media and mobile apps to grow an army of grass roots loyalists. He swamped Iowans with mailers and phone calls, and used people’s individual preferences and Republican ideals to endure them to his campaign. He then locked in their loyalty through in-house visits and by wooing local Republican leadership and pastors — retail politicking.

The Iowa caucus had record turnout that many thought would propel Mr. Trump to victory, but it was the Cruz machine that stood up to the real estate mogul’s star power and drove home the win.

Mr. Cruz hasn’t let up. He’s been organized in every state and campaigning like a true front-runner.

Many of Mr. Cruz’s critics have been tough on him for his so-called “bromance” with Mr. Trump in the early days of the campaign. I would argue, Mr. Cruz was the only one wise enough at the time to understand Mr. Trump’s outsider allure with voters, and to understand he was an outsider too.

Attacking Trump would be to attack his own platform, which is, among other things, to tear down the Washington cartel. Mr. Cruz distanced himself when the time came necessary — when the Republican field winnowed. Mr. Cruz knew with less competition the media could focus on his policy and value differences with Mr. Trump, not just report the horse race.

Now we’re seeing Mr. Cruz outsmart Mr. Trump with his delegate strategy. Mr. Cruz’s team understands if he wins Wisconsin — or even loses it — he’s still going to the convention, and the delegates will matter.

Mr. Cruz’s team outfoxed Mr. Trump in Louisiana, where although Mr. Trump won the state, Mr. Cruz won the delegate count. He’s also prevailed in Arizona, where after the first ballot, he’s amassed a team of loyalists who may defect to him on subsequent votes.

“Team Cruz is engaged in a furious round of phone calls, texts, emails and meetings as it attempts to place loyal delegates,” David Drucker of the Washington Examiner reported on Monday, noting Mr. Cruz had the possibility of winning 55 percent of Arizona’s delegate slots.

Through similar devotion, the Cruz team won over North Dakota’s delegates this week, where Mr. Cruz garnered 18 out of 25 delegate’s support.

Mr. Cruz has also not been afraid to share the limelight — something in stark contrast to Mr. Trump’s one-man show. Since the beginning of his campaign, Mr. Cruz deployed his father, Rafael, and wife, Heidi, on the campaign trail as surrogates.

In Florida and Wisconsin, Carly Fiorina has opened for him, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has been doing the rounds in the Badger State. Once bitter rivals, there looks to be a camaraderie among the former Presidential candidates — a sign Mr. Cruz welcomes and accepts different philosophies and leadership under the big Republican tent. He can be a unifier.

To some, Mr. Cruz can be polarizing. And to many, he’s simply unlikable. But, even his detractors should admit, a man who has gone to Washington and made enemies is a good man indeed. He’s walked into the lion’s den, not caved to the pressure of Washington insiders, and came out alive. A rare feat, indeed.

Mr. Cruz has also run a hard fought, smart campaign. And for that, he should be respected. No matter what happens Tuesday night. And even more so if he wins.


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