Via Bill Kristol (who posted the whole thing), this is the heart of Decker's memo:
Cruz's obsession with being the conservative in the race barred the door to the broader Republican primary electorate that, while just as conservative as Cruz, does not base its vote on an ideological scorecard, or even fidelity to the conservative movement.
This self-constraint also led Cruz to restrict the places he tried to win. Iowa and South Carolina met the criteria – but New Hampshire was out of the question. Florida seemed unlikely to him with two favorite sons running. The southeastern states were the big prize, and the fact that so many were frontloaded onto Super Tuesday for this cycle made that outlook even more appealing. Most of the media's acceptance of a successful Cruz candidacy was based around this dynamic. To Cruz, the primary calendar was like a chessboard he would try to deftly navigate. Instead, it turned out to be what it has always been for the GOP: a game of knockout dictated by what happens in the first three states.
My former boss Jeff Bell dug up this fact last year: no presidential nominee of either party since the beginning of the New Hampshire primary in 1952 has ever finished worse than second place there. As he put it, there are three tickets out of Iowa, but only two out of New Hampshire.I shall be more blunt: The self-constraint that Decker mentioned is actually the limit of the voting bloc he appealed to. Ditto Kasich.
Trump ran a national campaign. Bush was the only other one who did, and he bowed out after his third loss.
Decker's memo reflected this:
Like his state strategy, Cruz was very selective when it came to media availability. He allotted more time for conservative media, was limited his appearances on mainstream outlets. He took press questions infrequently. A frequent image became Cruz delivering his talking points into a podium of microphones, and then hustling away to avoid reporters' questions.
Trump basically took every legitimate media interview request that landed in his inbox. He held numerous press conferences and took lots of reporters' questions. He became such a staple of the television talk shows that he was afforded the rare privilege of phoning in his appearances rather than appearing on camera. While these appearances, most notably on CNN with Jake Tapper where he declined to condemn hate groups, occasionally froze his campaign in its tracks for days, they totaled up to nearly $2 billion in free media coverage, six times what Cruz earned. I would argue that this disparity was completely legitimate given the candidates' inverse attitudes toward media availability.What have I been saying? Trump earned his media. Everyone else had someone else buy it. Cruz ducked reporters ("hustling away to avoid reporters' questions") while Trump took them all on. Sure, he tossed the blowhard Jorge Ramos of Univision from a press conference, but then he brought him back in and had a confrontation, blowhard to blowhard.
Truth is, Cruz is a policy wonk.
Trump is a leader.
Cruz ducked the mainstream media. Trump devoured it.
Then he burped and farted, but what the hey.
And there was this:
Campaign strategy aside, many conservatives are perplexed that Ted Cruz could lose to Donald Trump when Cruz is undoubtedly the closest ideological approximation to Ronald Reagan since he left the scene. He's the perfect conservative, many said, so how could he lose in a conservative primary?
I think this analysis misunderstands how Reagan framed himself as a candidate. He was not running to be winner of the CPAC straw poll or get the most conservative endorsements. He made it clear he was running to revive the U.S. economy and defeat the Soviet Union. Those were objectives that made it easy for any voter to support him. A majority ended up getting behind him because his ideas achieved those objectives, not because they dazzled on an ideological scorecard. Like Cruz, Reagan in 1980 had to get by better-funded establishment Republicans. But he didn't try to shrink the nominating contest into a conservative beauty pageant.I trust Decker learned. Kristol said he is a fine young conservative. Plenty of room to grow in his career and I wish him a great deal of luck.