Yesterday was one of the most action-packed days in the latter stages of 2016 presidential nominating race. Donald Trump made a much anticipated foreign policy speech, Sen. Ted Cruz announced Carly Fiorina as his vice presidential pick and Sen. Bernie Sanders said he would begin laying off campaign staffers in states that recently voted.
Tuesday’s primaries saw the consolidation of both the Democratic and Republican nomination contests behind the front-runners, prompting significant moves across the remaining campaigns.
Sanders’ decision to begin winding down his campaign apparatus points to the realization that the nomination is now most likely out of reach. While he said that he will continue campaigning until the end of the nominating contests in June, his message has started to shift to one focused on influencing the Democratic platform, rather than securing the nomination.
Ted Cruz made his vice president announcement in a bid to show that he, as opposed to Donald Trump, is the most prepared GOP candidate. Following a poor showing on Tuesday, there was a sense he needed to do something to remain relevant.
With an ardent conservative woman, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, on his ticket, he is hoping to position himself in the best possible way for the convention fight, which is looking increasingly unlikely.
Earlier in the day, Trump made a highly awaited foreign policy speech at a hotel in downtown Washington, D.C., at an event hosted by the Center for the National Interest. Introduced by Afghani immigrant and former U.S. diplomat, Zalmay Khalilzad, Trump tried to quell fears that he is out of his depth when it comes to foreign policy.
While he gave a more structured and detailed speech than he had up to now on the topic, it was both painfully self-aggrandizing and contained distinct contradictions.
“In this time of mounting debt,” Trump began, “Right now, we have so much debt that nobody even knows how to address the problem. But I do.” How would he do this? By “putting Americans first again,” and well, obviously also changing “our trade, economic and immigration policies.” Thanks for the clarification, Donald.
Sounding like the populist rhetorician we’ve all come to know, Trump pandered to fears of military inadequacy and mocked the current administration’s focus on global warming.
In essence, the speech was erratic and reaffirmed the sense that Trump would be a learn-as-you-go president. At one point, Trump called for a return to Cold-War era foreign-policy coherence, but then went on to undermine NATO, the very organization that enabled that coherence.
Yesterday’s events kick-starts a new chapter in the race for the White House. Sanders looks to have finally accepted his fate, Cruz is now on his last legs, with nothing to lose and Trump is slowly but surely trying to get rid of the suffocating haze of political inexperience that has hung over his campaign.