Donald Trump surprised many observers with the gracious, almost humble tone he struck after his defeat in Monday night’s Iowa caucuses.
It’s safe to say that grace period is now over.
On Wednesday, the billionaire took to Twitter – his preferred platform for airing grievances, real or perceived, about his rivals, the media and just about anything else – and unloaded a wave of invective against caucus winner Sen. Ted Cruz (TX) while calling for a do-over in the Hawkeye State.
During primetime of the Iowa Caucus, Cruz put out a release that @RealBenCarson was quitting the race, and to caucus (or vote) for Cruz.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 3, 2016
Many people voted for Cruz over Carson because of this Cruz fraud. Also, Cruz sent out a VOTER VIOLATION certificate to thousands of voters.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 3, 2016
Based on the fraud committed by Senator Ted Cruz during the Iowa Caucus, either a new election should take place or Cruz results nullified.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 3, 2016
Seasoned politicians know it is never a good idea to gripe about the election process and that it’s better to just move on.
But Trump is not a seasoned politician. He operates as his own spin doctor, capable of explaining away any flaw, any loss that defies the former reality TV star’s image as an unstoppable winner – never mind that he threw something of a tantrum and didn’t attend the last Republican presidential debate in Iowa four days before voters went to the polls.
By placing the blame for his defeat on Cruz -- who came under fire for spreading the rumor the night of the caucuses that Ben Carson was dropping out of the race and who has since apologized for it -- Trump has absolved himself of any responsibility for his loss.
Wednesday’s tweetstorm could hint at how Trump might change his game plan and exit the race, or at least the Republican primary. He has repeatedly said that if he doesn’t feel like he’s being treated “fairly” by the party, he could bolt the GOP and launch an independent bid for the White House.
A weaker than expected performance in the New Hampshire primary next week would only add fuel to the fire.
For now, at least, the real estate mogul has little reason to worry about a second loss. Recent polls show him anywhere from 20 to 30 points ahead of his rivals in the Granite State.
However, polls also had Trump ahead of Cruz in Iowa going into Monday’s vote. And unlike Iowa, which morphed into a three-man race between Trump, Cruz and Sen. Marco Rubio (FL), who is surging after coming in a close third in Iowa, there are several more candidates looking for a win in New Hampshire.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Ohio Governor John Kasich and Florida Governor Jeb Bush are barnstorming the state, hoping a strong showing will revive their moribund campaigns.
Combined, their last-minute efforts, and what is sure to be an all-out attack on Trump at the next GOP debate this Saturday, could be enough to sap the billionaire’s support to once again give him a silver medal.