This weekend hasn’t been a good one for Donald Trump.
I took ten other College Republicans to the American Conservative Union’s annual Conservative Political Action Conference, and that’s where the bad news began for Trump.
Trump had been scheduled to speak at CPAC on Saturday morning at 8:30 in the morning. This is far from an ideal time slot, and maybe he just didn’t want to wake up early enough to speak at it (I’m sure he had been tweeting late into the night the night before). On Friday, we all learned that he was scheduled to bail on his speech because he would be making a speech in Witchita, Kanasas (this is a place that is clearly not to be confused with Wichita, Kansas).
Misspelling both the city and the state where you’ll be speaking is probably a bad way to let people know that you’ll be coming to town.
At CPAC, whenever Trump’s name was mentioned there would be a chorus of boos. When Ted Cruz mentioned him there were scattered chants of Trump’s name but they were drowned out by the rest of the room booing him. When Rubio slammed both Trump and the media’s obsessive coverage of him (the first two questions he was asked during his Q and A were both about Trump), he got standing ovations.
Now, everyone who watched the speeches would know that the crowd at CPAC wasn’t enamored with Trump, but being at CPAC in person let me see just how deep the antipathy went. Some of the speakers at smaller panels mocked him subtly or overtly (for example, at the Ronald Reagan dinner that I snuck into, Carly Fiorina opened her speech by saying that that she has small hands but has a big…phone), but that wasn’t all.
Ted Cruz’s campaign was masterfully trolling Trump throughout the conference. His campaign is now selling yoga mats after Cruz and Rubio managed to bring it up during the most recent GOP debate.
At CPAC, Cruz’s campaign was giving out shirts that said “I went to Trump University and all I got was this shirt.” However, that’s not all they did. There was a man dressed up in a chicken costume mocking Trump’s decision to skip CPAC and Certificates of Deception from Trump University were handed out to everyone who walked by. At the bottom of the certificates, the small print reads that they were paid for by Cruz for President.
One of the things that CPAC is most famous for is, of course, their straw poll. Once again, this was an utter disaster for Trump. Trump is a huge fan of touting any poll that confirms what he thinks, but I have a feeling he will never mention this one. A whopping 6% of respondents identified them as “populist conservatives.”
The results for presidential preference weren’t much better for Trump, who came in a distant third. Ted Cruz came in first with 40% and Marco Rubio came in second with 30%. And with 15%, Trump comes in third. When respondents were asked about their second choice, Rubio led the field with 29%, followed by Cruz at 26%, followed by John Kasich at 18%, followed by Trump at 9%. When votes for first and second are tallied together, Cruz has 66%, Rubio has 59%, Kasich has 26%, and Trump is dead last with 24%. For someone who talks about winning all the time, this is nothing short of a disaster. No wonder he canceled his speech here at the last second.
Now let’s fly over to Kansas (or Kanasas, if you’re Trump). Given that Trump canceled his speech to speak here, he must have thought that the race was going to be close. However that was far from the case. He was absolutely blown out of the water. Cruz more than doubled him (although he netted a surprisingly small number of delegates). This is humiliation, pure and simple.
Trump then jetted over to Florida, where he made it even clearer that the candidate he’s most afraid of is Rubio, not Cruz. If Trump feared Cruz, why did he utterly ignore him, choosing to “savage” Rubio instead? Why would he say that he welcomes a one on one primary with him?
In Florida, Trump made an audience pledge allegiance to…him. This is beyond strange, and their inability to recite his pledge back at him would be funny if it weren’t so concerning that he thinks he is this important. What also is remarkable is that he doesn’t even know when Florida votes! He told the crowd to “vote on or before the 12th.” However, Florida’s primary is on the 15th! Clearly his errors extend deeper than his spelling of states.
From bailing and failing at CPAC, to a massive loss where he tried to save face, to telling voters to miss the primary date in Florida, it’s safe to say that this was an awful week for Trump, and it may be the one where things really start to go downhill for him if things keep up at this pace.