Most pan Ted Cruz’s non-endorsement speech as a selfish act.
CLEVELAND — Donald Trump’s acceptance speech hit the mark Thursday night, drawing accolades from a number of GOP political insiders who had doubted his competence to lead the Republican ticket this fall.
That’s according to The POLITICO Caucus — a panel of operatives, activists and strategists in 11 battleground states surveyed immediately following Trump’s speech. Fifty-six percent of Republican insiders said Trump’s speech — a forceful indictment of those responsible for what he perceives as a country in decline, along with an assurance that he is uniquely qualified to solve the nation’s ills — made them feel more confident in his candidacy.
“Trump gave a simple message and expanded the Republican Party: law and order, economic populism and defeat the rigged system,” said one Iowa Republican — who, like all respondents, completed the survey anonymously.
“I felt Trump gave a very good speech and struck on issues and policies that people wanted to hear about,” added a Colorado Republican. “His family and friends did an excellent job of showing the softer side of Donald Trump and gave America a good view of his family, which says a lot about him as a person. I think he is absolutely right — this is a movement, not a ‘normal’ campaign. People have had enough of tired politicians. I think they are going to give him the chance to run the country.”
Added a Pennsylvania Republican: “He talked to the people he needed to very effectively. The speech defined the race and made him a voice for the people — something he should have done months ago.”
For many of the GOP insiders, Trump’s acceptance speech Thursday night helped overcome other, rockier moments this week, including Ted Cruz’s speech, in which the Texas senator declined to endorse Trump, despite angry protestations from the crowd at Quicken Loans Arena.
Fifty-nine percent of Republicans picked Trump’s acceptance speech as the “defining moment” of the convention, far more than the 28 percent who said Cruz’s televised snub defined the week.
The Cruz speech received poor marks from those same Republican insiders. Four-in-five said it was a “selfish act” to address the convention without getting behind Trump. Only 20 percent described it as a “principled stand.”
Cruz “showed his true colors as just another craven politician willing to put his own political ambition ahead of the interests of the party and the country,” a Colorado Republican said. “It’s a risky bet — if Hillary wins in November as a result of the divisions Cruz continues to foment within the party, the GOP will hold the senator from Texas partially responsible for the multiple justices that Clinton will appoint to the Supreme Court, undermining the very conservative principles and constitution Ted Cruz claims to champion.”
“Cruz almost looks like he trying to ensure that Hillary will win so he can run against her in 2020,” added a Virginia Republican.
“It was beyond selfish,” a Wisconsin Republican said. “It was beyond stupid and showed Ted Cruz for what he is. Cruz’s speech was a head-shaking moment. And, he’s toast in 2020. Compare him to Ryan.”
Trump certainly still has his Republican critics: Twenty percent said the speech made them less confident in him. And a number of them were despondent in what they saw as an apocalyptic view of the country, when voters want to be inspired.
“It’s not morning in America; it’s midnight in America, according to Trump,” a Colorado Republican said. “This was a long, depressing speech that did not focus on issues that most Americans are concerned about, specifically, the economy.”
Added a New Hampshire Republican: “We have handed our Party over to a narcissistic, feckless, classless RINO strongman wannabe who is the only candidate that actually gives the horrid Hillary Clinton a chance to win.”
Democrats largely agreed: The consensus among insiders wasn’t that Trump will emerge from Cleveland as a stronger candidate. Instead, many of them believed he delivered a dark, angry speech that served as the capstone of an unusual and damaging convention for the GOP.
“As a Democrat, I heard Trump describe a post-apocalyptic country that I don’t live in — full of fear, terror, and pending economic collapse,” a Colorado Democrat said. “It seemed like a speech to white America, or those in white America, who fear the social, cultural, and economic change in our country.”
“The whole thing was a dumpster fire,” a Florida Democrat said of the convention, “but Trump’s dark, troubling and borderline anti-American speech will define it.”
In fact, the vast majority of Democrats, 63 percent, said Cruz’s nonendorsement was the defining moment of a convention that, in their eyes, left the GOP more divided than united. It “was a defining moment of an ill-conceived and poorly executed convention,” one Iowa Democrat said.
But there were some signs that Trump struck a chord with some of his tougher GOP critics. One Nevada Republican called it “shockingly measured with populist lines that real people will like.”
Another New Hampshire Republican called it the “best speech” Trump has given thus far.
“But probably still not good enough,” the Republican said.
These are the members of The POLITICO Caucus, not all of whom participated in this survey:
Colorado: Ryan Call, Laura Carno, Matt Chandler, Will Coyne, Adam Eichberg, Mark Ferrandino, Cole Finegan, Michael Fortney, Andrew Freedman, Ted Harvey, Craig Hughes, Owen Loftus, Pete Maysmith, Frank McNulty, Karen Middleton, Christopher Murray, BJ Nikkel, Josh Penry, Rick Ridder, Alan Salazar, Janice Sinden, Pat Steadman, Pat Waak, Steve Welchert, Taylor West, Roxane White, Rob Witwer
Florida: Fernand Amandi, Scott Arceneaux, JP Austin, Tim Baker, Dennis K. Baxley, Slater Bayliss, Dave Beattie, Wayne Bertsch, Ron Book, Pamela Burch Fort, Jose Calderon, Kevin Cate, Kelly Cohen, Gus Corbella, Brian Crowley, Elizabeth Cuevas-Neunder, Justin Day, Judith Diaz, Nelson Diaz, John Dowless, Ryan Duffy, Jessica Ehrlich, Joe Falk, Alia Faraj-Johnson, Mark Ferrulo, Damien Filer, Marty Fiorentino, Rich Heffley, Nick Iarossi, David Johnson, Eric Johnson, Marian Johnson, Eric Jotkoff, Chris Korge, Jackie Lee, Susan MacManus, Beth Matuga, Fred Menachem, Jon Mills, Joe Mobley, Ben Pollara, Andrea Reilly, Steve Schale, April Schiff, Max Steele, Roger Stone, Richard Swann, Kevin Sweeny, Christian Ulvert, Steve Vancore, Ashley Walker, Andrew Weinstein, Andrew Wiggins, Ryan Wiggins, Rick Wilson
Iowa: Tim Albrecht, Brad Anderson, Rob Barron, Jeff Boeyink, Bonnie Campbell, Dave Caris, Sam Clovis, Jerry Crawford, Sara Craig, John Davis, Steve Deace, John Deeth, Derek Eadon, Ed Failor Jr., Karen Fesler, David Fischer, Ben Foecke, Doug Gross, Steve Grubbs, Tim Hagle, Bob Haus, Joe Henry, Drew Ivers, Jill June, Lori Jungling, Jeff Kaufmann, Brian Kennedy, Jake Ketzner, David Kochel, Chris Larimer, Chuck Larson, Jill Latham, Jeff Link, Dave Loebsack, Mark Lucas, Liz Mathis, Jan Michelson, Chad Olsen, David Oman, Matt Paul, Marlys Popma, Troy Price, Christopher Rants, Kim Reem, Craig Robinson, Sam Roecker, David Roederer, Nick Ryan, Tamara Scott, Joni Scotter, Karen Slifka, John Smith, AJ Spiker, Norm Sterzenbach, John Stineman, Matt Strawn, Charlie Szold, Phil Valenziano, Jessica Vanden Berg, Nate Willems, Eric Woolson, Grant Young
Michigan: Jill Alper, Saul Anuzis, Andrea Bitely, Lori Carpentier, Howard Edelson, Jordan Gehrke, Steve Hood, Joe Lehman, Dennis Lennox, Katie Packer, Ronna Romney McDaniel, John Truscott, Stephanie White, John Yob
Nevada: Mac Abrams, Greg Bailor, Barbara Buckley, Yvanna Cancela, Bob Cavazos, Linda Cavazos, Jim DeGraffenreid, Andrew Diss, Peter Ernaut, Ryan Erwin, Chip Evans, Jay Gerstema, Oscar Goodman, Ryan Hamilton, Dan Hart, Pat Hickey, Zach Hudson, Jeremy Hughes, Megan Jones, Lindsey Jydstrup, Adam Khan, Peter Koltak, Roberta Lange, Sam Liberman, Laura Martin, Michael McDonald, Chuck Muth, Erven Nelson, Kristen Orthman, Neal Patel, Nick Phillips, Jon Ralston, Andres Ramires, Emmy Ruiz, Scott Scheid, Mike Slanker, James Smack, Paul Smith, Jack St. Martin, Mari St. Martin, Daniel Stewart, Brendan Summers, Riley Sutton, Robert Uithoven, Michelle White, Ed Williams, Heidi Wixom
New Hampshire: Charlie Arlinghaus, Arnie Arnesen, Patrick Arnold, Rich Ashooh, Dean Barker, Juliana Bergeron, D.J. Bettencourt, Michael Biundo, Ray Buckley, Peter Burling, Jamie Burnett, Debby Butler, Dave Carney, Jackie Cilley, Catherine Corkery, Corriveau, Fergus Cullen, Lou D’Allesandro, James Demers, Mike Dennehy, Sean Downey, Steve Duprey, JoAnn Fenton, Jennifer Frizzell, Martha Fuller Clark, Amanda Grady Sexton, Jack Heath, Gary Hirshberg, Jennifer Horn, Peter Kavanaugh, Joe Keefe, Rich Killion, Harrell Kirstein, Sylvia Larsen, Joel Maiola, Kate Malloy Corriveau, Maureen Manning, Steve Marchand, Tory Mazzola, Jim Merrill, Jayne Millerick, Claira Monier, Greg Moore, Matt Mowers, Terie Norelli, Chris Pappas, Liz Purdy, Tom Rath, Colin Reed, Jim Rubens, Andy Sanborn, Dante Scala, William Shaheen, Stefany Shaheen, Carol Shea-Porter, Terry Shumaker, Andy Smith, Craig Stevens, Kathy Sullivan, Chris Sununu, James Sununu, Jay Surdukowski, Donna Sytek, Kari Thurman, Colin Van Ostern, Deb Vanderbeek, Mike Vlacich, Ryan Williams
North Carolina: Don Davis, Francis X. De Luca, Anita Earls, Jonathan Felts, Tami L. Fitzgerald, Dylan Frick, Taylor Griffin, Robin Hayes, Morgan Jackson, Patsy Keever, Theresa Kostrzewa, Michael Luethy, Ray Martin, Thomas Mills, Melissa L. Reed, Chris Sgro, Paul Shumaker, Dee Stewart, Brad Thompson, Bruce Thompson, Charlie Wallin, Doug Wilson
Ohio: Jerry Austin, Greg Beswick, Matt Borges, Erica Bruton, Tim Burke, Janet Carson, Jai Chabria, Martha Clark, Bob Clegg, Damareo Cooper, Jo Ann Davidson, Michael Dawson, Bill DeMora, Cindy Demse, Kathy Dicristofaro, Katie Eagan, Michael Gonidakis, Wes Goodman, Joe Hallett, Ian James, Melissa Klide Hedden, David Leland, Nick Martin, Rhine McLin, David Pepper, Molly Shack, Mark R. Weaver
Pennsylvania: Chris Borick, Larry Ceisler, Valentino DiGiorgio, Jason Ercole, Dan Fee, Charlie Gerow, Marcel Groen, Leslie Gromis Baker, Mark Harris, Nan McLaughlin, Aubrey Montgomery, Christopher Nicholas, Nachama Soloveichik, David Sosar, Todd Stephens, Doc Sweitzer, David Thornburgh, Ray Zaborney
Virginia: Ray Allen, Sandra Brandt, Marc K. Broklawski, Patsy Brown, Janet Carver, John Cosgrove, Brian Coy, Doris Crouse-Mays, Tom Davis, Julie Dime, Abbi Easter, Mike Farris, John Findlay, Joe Fitzgerald, Sean Harrison, Margo Horner, Robert Hurt, Gaylene Kanoyton, Chris LaCivita, Sue Langley, Frank Leone, Robert G. Marshall, Tucker Martin, Ed Matricardi, Susan J. Rowland, Peter Snyder, Susan Swecker, Jo Thoburn
Wisconsin: Meg Andrietsch, Mary Arnold, Kevin Barthel, Mike Basford, Rebecca Bonesteel, Barry Burden, Terri Burl, Jim Camery, Patrick Guarasci, Robert Hansen, Gary Hawley, Marian Krumberger, Emily Nehring, Jason Rae, Brandon Scholz, John Zapfel