Since I wrote the post below things actually managed to get much, much weirder. I stand by the thrust of what I wrote about Cruz’s speech. But there was one critical part of the equation I got wrong, though I think I deserve a pass because there was really no way to know – even despite Trump’s Razor – that this level of stupidity was possible to contemplate. There’s no reasonable way to blame me for this.
When I wrote the earlier post I took it as a given that there was no way the Trump Team and the RNC could have agreed to allow Cruz to give that speech – particularly the portion about ‘voting your conscience.’ But afterwards I talked to TPM Senior Editor Catherine Thompson and we looked at the advance, embargoed copies of tonight’s speeches sent out to reporters at 8:21 PM eastern this evening. Inexplicably, the version of the speech sent out roughly two hours before Cruz spoke contained exactly the words that created such a storm.
Here’s the text as sent out by the RNC at 8:21 pm …
In other words, whatever Cruz was trying to do he did it in plain sight. In fact, there’s more the advanced text tells us. In Newt Gingrich’s speech that came a short time later, Newt referenced Cruz’s speech, praising Trump for allowing former foes to address the convention and suggesting, against all common sense, that Cruz had in fact said that people should vote for Trump.
Here’s the key.
Those passages were not in the advance, embargoed versions of the speech.
That clearly suggests that convention planners were completely caught off guard by what Cruz said. It seems they did not read the speech, even though what Cruz would say was the subject of immense scrutiny and pressure by Trump and the RNC. Is that possible? Or did they simply not realize how the words would play in front of the convention crowd?
One possibility, remember, is tied to the fact that Cruz is a master debater. Perhaps he realized that he could deliver the speech in such a way that its effect would be different than it appeared on the written page. But I suspect this gives Cruz too much credit, though it’s possible he had that in mind. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that the key people in the Trump operation, inexplicably, did not read Cruz’s speech or did not read it closely enough to take cognizance of this critical passage.