So, Ted Cruz went to New York City on Thursday and, well, things didn’t go all that smoothly. He was greeted with a New York Daily News front page advising to “Take the F U Train, Ted” on his way out of town. An angry protester who said that his harsh stand on illegal immigration meant Cruz had no place in an “immigrant community” interrupted one event in the Bronx. The students at a charter school threatened a walkout if he went through with an event scheduled there, forcing him to cancel.
New York City plainly has no love for Ted Cruz, and he has little chance of coming away with anything more than a handful of delegates when the Empire State holds its primary on April 19. His decision to belittle frontrunner Donald Trump’s “New York values” in a televised debate in January only further guaranteed a hostile reception in a city and state where his brand of hard right social conservatism was never going to sell to begin with.
Cruz’s attack on the city where Trump lives also afforded the billionaire former reality television star what was probably his single best moment in all of the Republican Presidential debates of the cycle -- which Trump happily transformed into an Instagram video Thursday:
Ted Cruz attacked New Yorkers and New York values- we don't forget! https://t.co/83ur9C1qhB— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 7, 2016
However, Cruz will still have to contest New York in the hope of peeling off a few delegates from the most conservative Congressional districts. And on Thursday, Cruz campaign manager Jeff Roe gave a good indication of how Cruz plans to spin what will likely be an overwhelming loss later this month.
In an interview with ABC News, Roe played down expectations for Cruz, stressing that the contest in New York is an “away game” for the Texas senator, and then trying to set as high a bar as possible for Trump.
“I’m assuming Donald is very strong in his home state,” Roe said.
“If he doesn't get over 50 percent, he should probably consider dropping out, like everyone else has when they don't win their home state in a dramatic fashion,” he said.
There in a nutshell is the Cruz plan for New York: recognize in advance that he is going to lose the state, and play for a strategic victory that he can use to try to blunt any momentum Trump takes away from a win in his delegate-rich home state.
It will be a bit of a delicate dance for Cruz to insist that Trump can only really claim victory with a 50 percent or better showing in a three-person race. The Texas senator won only 43.8 percent of the vote in his own home state last month. In his defense though, in a field that at the time still included retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, he beat his nearest competitor, Trump, by 17.1 percentage points.
Cruz though, is nothing if not brash and willing to press a technical point if he thinks it plays to his advantage. So, expect for the next 11 days to hear Cruz and his surrogates repeatedly insisting that anything short of a landslide victory in New York will actually be a sign of weakness for Trump.