2016 Republicans, State of the Race, Strategy, Uncategorized

How Much Can a Rolling Stone Harm Cruz?

March 28, 2016

Roger Stone has seen it all. He cut his teeth working as an intern at CREEP in 1972. That was the Committee to Re-Elect the President, the one with a starring role in Watergate. It’s still amazing they picked that acronym.

Later Stone became something of a confidant for Richard Nixon, and also participated in multiple Ronald Reagan presidential campaigns. He’s known and worked for Donald Trump for multiple decades, acting as an advisor to his campaign before parting over the summer.

He’s an old school dirty trickster and proud of it. Controversy follows him wherever he goes. Stone does not find this even slightly embarrassing. The Kennedys had a guy like this by the name of Paul Corbin. He worked in the shadows. Stone goes on TV and radio.

While he’s not officially affiliated with the Trump campaign, Stone is still a supporter. He’s written four books in recent years. The first alleges LBJ was behind JFK’s assassination. The second is about the backstory to Watergate. The third is entitled The Clintons’ War on Women.

In case you think he’s slowing down or becoming less inflammatory, the most recent title is Jeb! and the Bush Crime Family. There is very little Stone is afraid to say. He was tangentially related to the reveal of the Elliot Spitzer sex scandal.

It’s the ultimate wild card. He’ll say anything and would probably make anything up. But he also knows where many bodies are buried. If something sinister or salacious is going on, he may well know about it. You can’t trust he’s lying, you can’t assume he’s telling the truth.

Now he’s front and center in the Ted Cruz-National Enquirer-Donald Trump fight. Over the past few days we’ve moved from an anti-Trump PAC attempting to use revealing photos of Melania against him, to The Donald firing back by attacking Heidi Cruz, to the Enquirer claiming Cruz has participated in 5 affairs.

At first, Cruz was more than holding his own. He’s made progress in recent Wisconsin polls. Calling Trump a sniveling coward was a good line. When the Enquirer story first hit, it was fairly quickly dismissed. Cruz isn’t Bill Clinton. He’s not Gary Hart. Voters have a hard time picturing him playing around.

Absent any evidence, absent any of the women in question speaking out to verify the allegations, the average voter would brush this off. Nobody wants to picture Ted Cruz having sex.

If anything is proven, it’s a problem. He doesn’t have a margin for error in the fight with Trump. He’s also an outspoken evangelical. The whole hypocrisy thing doesn’t work real well. He’d like to have this go away quickly so he can focus on closing strong in Wisconsin.

Roger Stone won’t let this happen. You can’t scare him off. He lives for this sort of fun. He knows how to make things sound plausible. Again, this is a man who had no trouble alleging in print that LBJ was behind the assassination.  He named all sorts of names to bolster his scenario.

Stone isn’t a great writer. There were plenty of typos and other items a half-decent editor would have fixed. Most of his sources are dead. But he builds a case that’s no less plausible than fifty other Kennedy conspiracy theories. The most important part is he was willing to.

Most JFK theorists are known for being on the conspiracy team. It’s what they do, the thing they are best known for. They don’t need to worry about what it might do to their careers  Stone actually talks to and consults for people you’ve heard of and is still willing to write stuff like that.

He’s now called Cruz out directly, daring him to sue him. Dealing with Trump is hard enough. He plays by no rules a traditional candidate would recognize. The Donald plus Stone? Cruel and unusual punishment.

Stone is great at giving background details. In this case, he says the Rubio team originally paid for an investigation, to hold as insurance against claims against their candidate. Those investigators then sold the information to the Enquirer.

That doesn’t guarantee it’s true. But as usual, Stone has constructed a good story. Rumors about Rubio have kicked around for a while. Whether you believe them or even care about him at this point is immaterial. It adds texture.

Investigators getting paid by Rubio’s guys plus the Enquirer. Sure, that could happen, thinking about them playing both ends adds credibility. Again, this doesn’t have to be true, just possible enough to distract.

If Cruz actually did this, he’s screwed. Somebody will break, somebody will talk, and between the #NeverTrump people who hate The Donald more than they like Trump and some/a few of Ted’s core evangelicals who will feel betrayed, he’s dead in the water.

Winning places like Pennsylvania and California won’t be easy for Cruz under the best of circumstances. His nomination path is through a contested convention. It’s not like he has a huge store of goodwill to fall back on.

Let’s say none of it happened and Cruz is a perfectly faithful husband. He’s still boxed in. Stone won’t let him brush this off and move on. Neither will Trump, but Stone acts as the prod and The Donald is just an interested observer who can remind voters the Enquirer is right sometimes.

You can’t go wrong saying Ted Cruz and John Edwards in the same sentence. They would have managed a couple extra days from this regardless. But with the full call out, Cruz is stuck.

If he continues to ignore Stone, he will appear on radio and TV as often as possible to say the absence of legal action is confirmation of guilt. If he does sue him, that’s a distraction, and more than that it’s an invitation for mainstream media types to cover the story with more time, detail and vigor.

If Cruz has remained completely faithful to his wife, this absolutely sucks. For an evangelical-friendly candidate, it’s almost as bad as being accused of murder. If Cruz was involved with multiple staffers over the past few years, how did he think he was going to get away with it?

Either way, the Great #NeverTrump Hope did not need the introduction of doubt at this stage of the contest. As of today, he’s officially trapped. Roger Stone is rolling downhill with a presidential contender in his path.



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