Cruz Forces A Rare Concession From Trump

This blog was originally published on Forbes as Cruz Forces A Rare Concession From Trump on Saturday, January 16, 2016.

Two days after their heated exchange during last week’s Republican presidential debate, the sparks are still flying between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. After spending the first five debates attacking all the other candidates, but not each other, the gloves came off in the sixth. Given Mr. Trump’s media savvy and Mr. Cruz’s well-known experience as a collegiate and congressional debater, the two men more than made up for lost time. “I guess the bromance is over,” Trump told CNN’s Dana Bash after the debate.

It all began when Fox News host Neil Cavuto turned to Mr. Cruz and said, “Now, you were born… you were born in Canada to an American mother. So you were and are considered an American citizen. But that fellow next to you, Donald Trump—and others—have said that being born in Canada means you are not natural-born, and that has raised questions about your eligibility.”

Mr. Cruz smiled and replied:

You know, back in September, my friend Donald said that he had had his lawyers look at this from every which way, and there was no issue there. There was nothing to this birther issue. Now, since September, the Constitution hasn’t changed.

But the poll numbers have.

The line produced laughter and applause from the audience. Mr. Cruz waited a beat then continued to build his argument, charging that “Donald has been relying on birther theories,” and then capped it with the warning that Mr. Trump’s citizenship might also be in question because his mother was born in Scotland.

Mr. Trump shot back defensively, “But I was born here!”

Mr. Cruz continued to attack and Mr. Trump continued to defend and to counterattack, escalating the intensity of the exchange, prompting boos, cheers, and applause from the audience. Mr. Cavuto interrupted and asked Mr. Trump, “Why are you saying this now—right now? Why are you raising this issue now?”

Finally, Mr. Trump said:

Because now he’s going a little bit better. No, I didn’t care (inaudible). It’s true. No, it’s true. Hey look, he never had a chance. Now, he’s doing better.

The public has become accustomed to politicians switching their positions on issues they’ve made before—and sometimes even within—a campaign. They call it “evolving” or “walking back,” but those are merely euphuisms for outright reversals or switches. Rarely does any of them come flat out and admit switching to assist their own cause.

Credit Ted Cruz’s debating skills with forcing even Donald Trump to concede.

This blog was originally published on Forbes as Cruz Forces A Rare Concession From Trump on Saturday, January 16, 2016.