OLD & BUSTED: Ted Cruz is a crazy, nasty, lying, cheating, election-stealing Canadian invader.
THE NEW HOTNESS: "I’ve always liked Cruz and haven’t ruled him out as VP".
Or maybe I should say newEST hotness, as late last night it was just "I'm over Iowa":
The day after accusing Ted Cruz of winning the Iowa caucuses unfairly and asking for a rematch in the State, Donald Trump says he’s now over it. “I’m so much into this, into New Hampshire, that I just — I don’t care about that anymore,” Trump said in an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper in Manchester, just five days out from next Tuesday’s primary contest here. “This is the place I’m focused on now.” …
In Thursday’s sit-down with CNN, Trump said some “strange things” appeared to have happened in Iowa, and that the Cruz campaign’s actions likely hurt him more than Carson.
“I like Ben Carson very much and he got pretty roughed up, frankly,” Trump said. “Although it affected me maybe more than Ben.”
But Trump added: “Who cares?”
He does, for starters, or he wouldn't have brought it up again. I interpret this as his managing to breathe into a paper bag yesterday and take a good look at the fallout from his Wednesday outburst, as well as the direction of his post-Iowa poll numbers, and realizing that he needed to stop digging, as it were, and belatedly focus on New Hampshire in order to avoid an Iowa sequel that could finish off his campaign within the space of barely more than a week.
Including another belated bowing to the efficacy of conventional, traditional, ANTI-POPULIST politicking:
Throughout his campaign, Trump has largely avoided smaller, town hall-style events. But since coming in second place after Cruz in Iowa, Trump appears to be acknowledging the importance of retail politics and one-on-one time with voters.
Trump was initially set to hold two campaign events on Thursday. But late Wednesday, the campaign announced an additional three campaign stops, including the interview with CNN and a visit with local business leaders.
Too little, too late. REAL presidential candidates spend the preceding year in the Granite State; Trump isn't going to pick up much from trying to make up for not doing so with a fast & furious five-day blitzkrieg. He's going to have to rely on what brought him to this dance. Which will probably be enough to avert a death spiral (i.e. losing New Hampshire as well), but not to put him back on the "table-running spree" he was looking at before (i.e. a close NH victory).
But don't think that Trump is over Iowa. What we've seen from him this week is probably how Mitt Romney felt after his two Iowa failures; it's just that Mitt didn't publicly vent each and every last syllable of it on social media. He had a normal, adult human being's discretion. He "didn't let 'em see him sweat". Donald Trump isn't capable of discretely going to the bathroom, much less publicly venting every thought and emotion that flits through his coiffed noggin. He's a rookie, having entered a "business" he thought was easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy for a man of his mastery of everything right up until votes actually started being cast, and then learned the hard way that it was a lot tougher than he thought it was. And now he's struggling with wrestling his titanic ego into enough submission to enable those lessons to actually sink in, and having to to so in a very compressed stretch of time.
Or perhaps he's still in an utter, screaming rage, and is just trying to put up a brave front to try and conceal it, which would help explain the aforelinked bit of Cruz-ward condescension:
In a striking reversal of rhetoric, Donald Trump would not rule out Ted Cruz as his hypothetical vice-presidential pick.
“Well, I don’t know. Look, I have nothing against him. It was sort of a sad thing that happened, but I’ve always liked him,” Trump told Hugh Hewitt on his radio show Thursday, after weeks of trashing his primary rival as nasty, hypocritical and disliked.
Trump added that he has “always gotten along well” with Cruz, but that “I’m so much now focused on New Hampshire.”
Allahpundit had a great way of synopsizing this: "Given how serious the accusations are — election fraud! Cruz unhinged! — these aren’t trial balloons Trump is floating so much as trial zeppelins. And then, a few days later, when it doesn’t work out as well he planned, he turns around and essentially says: What zeppelin?"
Or maybe he's just insane.
Either way, it should make tomorrow's debate must-see-TV.