Conservatives watching the GOP presidential race have enjoyed seeing the establishment candidates drop like flies.
Also comforting was observing what seemed like a truce between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.
Conservatives are used to bloody primaries. Every four years, we watch the conservative candidates fire at each other, and the one left standing is the moderate, squishy, establishment candidate who pundits claim is the only one still uninjured enough to make it across the finish line in the general election.
As the two non-establishment candidates at the top of the polls, Trump and Cruz effectively focused their fire on any establishment candidates nipping at their heels – until now.
For the past few weeks, the media have been trying desperately to find ways that Trump and Cruz have been attacking each other.
First, it was something said by Cruz behind closed doors that the media reported non-stop for days. Then it was Donald Trump bringing up Cruz’s citizenship issues. Then, Cruz called out Trump for his New York values, and Trump fired back at the recent Fox Business GOP presidential debate.
After the debate, there was nonstop coverage of Trump and Cruz talking about New York values. It could be said that both candidates came out on top in that debate in different ways.
Donald Trump had his greatest moment of the campaign when he defended New York and talked about the Sept. 11 aftermath in such an emotional way.
Ted Cruz also described New York values in a way that everyone outside of New York City understood. Iowans knew exactly what he meant. Middle America agrees with Ted Cruz’s description of New York City values, but also respected Donald Trump for defending his hometown. Both came out ahead.
Trump’s biggest weakness is that primary voters don’t completely trust his conservative underpinnings.
His attacks on Cruz risk remind voters in the Bible Belt of the story of King Solomon and the two mothers fighting over one baby.
Solomon makes a difficult decision
16 One day two women[a] came to King Solomon, 17 and one of them said:
Your Majesty, this woman and I live in the same house. Not long ago my baby was born at home, 18 and three days later her baby was born. Nobody else was there with us.
19 One night while we were all asleep, she rolled over on her baby, and he died. 20 Then while I was still asleep, she got up and took my son out of my bed. She put him in her bed, then she put her dead baby next to me.
21 In the morning when I got up to feed my son, I saw that he was dead. But when I looked at him in the light, I knew he wasn’t my son.
22 “No!” the other woman shouted. “He was your son. My baby is alive!”
“The dead baby is yours,” the first woman yelled. “Mine is alive!”
They argued back and forth in front of Solomon, 23 until finally he said, “Both of you say this live baby is yours. 24 Someone bring me a sword.”
A sword was brought, and Solomon ordered, 25 “Cut the baby in half! That way each of you can have part of him.”
26 “Please don’t kill my son,” the baby’s mother screamed. “Your Majesty, I love him very much, but give him to her. Just don’t kill him.”
The other woman shouted, “Go ahead and cut him in half. Then neither of us will have the baby.”
27 Solomon said, “Don’t kill the baby.” Then he pointed to the first woman, “She is his real mother. Give the baby to her.”
28 Everyone in Israel was amazed when they heard how Solomon had made his decision. They realized that God had given him wisdom to judge fairly.
Either the worst fears of conservatives are true and Trump is willing to destroy conservatives’ chances at winning the presidency like the baby in the King Solomon story, or Trump and Cruz are working together to dominate the media coverage and lock out any other candidates from getting a foothold ahead of the Iowa caucuses.
There is no way to know what is in the heart of Donald Trump, but the voters’ perception of Trump’s intentions will become reality in just a few weeks as we kick off the Iowa caucuses and head into the New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries.
So far, it looks like Cruz and Trump have both come out way ahead after dominating the news cycle for the past few days after the debate.
Their distant third-place challenger, Marco Rubio, was desperate to get noticed at the debate and is even more desperate now to be noticed now that his campaign is getting less coverage in favor of the Trump and Cruz feud.
As long as they can keep this tit-for-tat going without doing real damage to each other, it will be a net gain for the Trump and Cruz campaigns, and the establishment will be sent packing when the votes are tallied.
If Trump does real damage to Cruz, he risks damaging himself. If primary voters see Trump hurting a true conservative like Cruz, they will lose their trust in him. Then, if Cruz is seen as too damaged after Trump’s attacks, they may default to their third choice: Marco Rubio.
Right now, the whole race is in Trump’s hands. If he attacks Cruz too harshly, they could both lose. We should all hope and pray that he uses that power wisely. It is just too bad King Solomon isn’t on the ballot.