Taylor Glascock for CNN
Taylor Glascock for CNN

Torch in hand, Ted Cruz marches on Washington

When the sun went down in Washington and the White House glowed like a rainbow, one kind of American saw the colors and felt triumphant. This American celebrated on Facebook with a rainbow-filtered profile picture, or on the sidewalk with a kiss, or on Twitter with the hashtag #LoveWins. President Obama himself used this hashtag. He had once defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman, back when the majority of Americans felt the same way, but that was long ago, before he left what he now considered the wrong side of history. A few million people crossed over every year. Here came Hillary Clinton, and with her quite a few Republicans, and with them a new cultural momentum, so that on June 26, 2015, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide, these triumphant Americans reveled in their victory.

Another kind of American saw the rainbows and felt uneasy, if not afraid. This American hesitated on social media, because a dissenting opinion could be construed as a stand against love itself. The silent American saw what happened that year at a pizzeria in a small Indiana town when a television reporter walked in and started asking questions about the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which permitted business owners to turn away gay customers. The proprietor could have said, "We have no comment," or perhaps, "We serve delicious pizza to everyone." Instead she said, "If a gay couple was to come in, like say, we wanted—they wanted us to provide them pizzas for a wedding, um, we would have to say no." After the story went viral online, the pizzeria's Yelp site was jammed with scathing reviews and pornographic images. A protester stood outside with a sign that said BIGOTS. A local high-school coach tweeted, "Who's going to Walkerton, IN to burn down #memoriespizza w me?" The restaurant closed for eight days, and its owners said they had gone into hiding.

He would speak for people who felt the country—their country—had been taken away from them.

It was too late for a truce. The people who'd been forced to stay in the closet for most of American history watched as the roles were gradually reversed. The silent American saw little choice but to play along. Which is why, when someone set up a GoFundMe page and raised more than $840,000 for Memories Pizza, every donation was anonymous. And why, after a baker in Oregon refused to bake for a lesbian wedding, some loyal customers asked for their cake in unmarked boxes. When the owners of a wedding chapel and restaurant in Iowa refused to host a gay wedding, the silent American quietly thanked them for their convictions. But the silent American stopped eating lunch there, for fear of being seen.

This is how Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas emerged from a seventeen-person field to become Donald Trump's strongest Republican challenger: He made himself the voice of the silent American. He would speak for people who felt the country—their country—had been taken away from them.

The leader of this movement would need immunity from public shaming, which Cruz certainly had. Democratic strategist James Carville called him "the most talented and fearless Republican politician I've seen in the last thirty years." Others called him a bigot, a homophobe or worse, but Cruz had a special talent for turning insults into compliments. If he was hated equally by progressive leaders and politicians of both parties—especially his Senate colleagues—it only proved he was an enemy of the bipartisan corruption and moral decay that ran from Roe v. Wade in 1973 to Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015. And if anyone could be trusted to nominate unflinching conservatives to the U.S. Supreme Court, it was the man who boasted about needing a food-taster in the Senate dining room. Whatever side of history Ted Cruz was on, he stood there with a megaphone and a waving flag.

Sen. Ted Cruz at a rally on March 9, 2016, the week before the Florida primary. Melissa Golden/Redux for CNN

Cruz believed he could win by mobilizing evangelical Christians in unprecedented numbers. They already were dependable Republican voters, but Cruz's research director wrote in a campaign memo that more than 50 million had stayed home in 2012. How would Cruz draw them out? For starters, he would round up the people who had been publicly shamed for their old-fashioned religious beliefs—or their bigotry and intolerance, as those on the other side called it—and give them a public celebration.

What would Jesus have done? Not even Christians could agree.

What would Jesus have done? Not even Christians could agree. The question of same-sex marriage was dividing families, churches, entire denominations. Those on the traditional-marriage side felt increasingly isolated. In Grimes, Iowa, where Richard and Betty Odgaard shut down their wedding chapel to avoid hosting same-sex weddings, some of their children had crossed to the other side. Betty lost one friend after another. She asked if they could agree to disagree, keep the conversation going, but the chasm was just too wide.

On August 21, 2015, Cruz hosted a Rally for Religious Liberty in downtown Des Moines. Guests of honor included a florist who wouldn't provide flowers for a same-sex wedding, a fire chief who lost his job because of his writings opposing homosexuality, and an Air Force master sergeant who was reassigned after telling his lesbian commander his views on traditional marriage.

"You talked about not knowing where your friends are," Cruz told the Odgaards from the stage of a packed auditorium. "Well, let me point out there are 3,000 Iowans."

A few minutes later, the baker from Oregon told her story.

"We had lots of people that would come in," Melissa Klein said, "who were just, 'So proud of you guys! We're so glad, you know, that you're standing up for your faith.' And then they'd wanna order stuff. 'We wanna support you.' And then, I'd go to—I always put my sticker on the box. It said Sweet Cakes by Melissa, and it was a black sticker with pink writing. And, um—"

She paused to collect herself.

"—they'd ask me to not put that on the box. And so I sat there and I thought, 'If you're with me, and you're standing with me, why can't you stand yourself?' "

She paused again, this time for thunderous applause. It seemed the silent Americans were ready to make some noise.

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But there was more than one kind of silent American, even on the political right, and this is where Cruz's path to the nomination got complicated. If one conservative voter felt silenced on issues of biblical morality, another felt silenced on race, immigration, feminism, or multiculturalism. Some felt silenced about all these things. They saw themselves as victims of a new cultural orthodoxy that valued the rights and feelings of everyone but them.

The idea of a large and quiet voting bloc had come up in previous decades. Most notably, President Richard Nixon appealed to the "silent majority" for support against the antiwar counterculture in the late 1960s. This group was understood to be mostly white, mostly conservative and slightly old-fashioned—a fair description of the voters who helped Republicans take over the South. By 2015, with the minority population growing faster than the white majority and the nation drifting leftward on social issues, these voters felt alienated. Many would choose between Cruz and Trump, two merchants of nostalgia. One was refined and religious; the other coarse and secular. Both conjured visions of a nation gone but not forgotten: a place where straight white men didn't have to tread so lightly, and the silent American was someone else.

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Trump and Cruz both knew that conservatives viewed the mainstream media as a gear in the left-wing outrage machine, an accessory to the silencing of average conservatives. And they used this fact to their advantage. The more outrageous things Trump said, the more the media amplified his voice. The more he excoriated the media, the more airtime he received. Cruz also attacked the media whenever he could, like a gladiator who fires up the crowd by hurling his javelin at the referee.

"Let me say something at the outset," he said on October 28, 2015, at the CNBC debate.

"The questions that have been asked so far in this debate illustrate why the American people don't trust the media."

Republican pollster Frank Luntz was conducting a focus group that night. As Cruz went on, his scores climbed rapidly.

"This is not a cage match," Cruz said with fierce moral conviction. "And if you look at the questions: Donald Trump, are you a comic-book villain? Ben Carson, can you do math? John Kasich, will you insult two people over here? Marco Rubio, why don't you resign? Jeb Bush, why have your numbers fallen? How about talking about the substantive issues people care about?"

This anti-media tirade reached an average score of ninety-eight. In nineteen years of focus groups, Luntz had never seen a score so close to perfect.

In hindsight, a close observer could see in that moment the qualities that would propel Cruz toward the nomination—and those that would leave him short. If it illustrated why so many Americans didn't trust the media, it also showed why some Republican voters didn't trust Ted Cruz.

Yes, he was uncompromising in his ideology, a fearless spokesman for the conservative cause. But one faction of conservatives simply didn't believe him. When it came to the ways and means of winning, he seemed to place results above all else. The highest-scoring debate line in two decades was a complaint about a lack of substantive questions from a man who'd just been asked a substantive question.

Some of that night's questions had been needlessly provocative. But the question for Cruz was about preventing a government shutdown, an issue people did care about.

Cruz is interviewed before the CNN Republican debate in Miami, on March 10, 2016. Callie Shell for CNN

"Does this count?" CNBC host Carl Quintanilla tried to ask Cruz through the deafening applause. "Does this—do we get credit for this one?"

As Quintanilla grinned in disbelief, Cruz waved him off.

"And Carl, I'm not finished yet," he said. "The contrast with the Democratic debate, where every fawning question from the media was, 'Which of you is more handsome and wise?' And let me be clear—"

"So this is a question about the debt limit," Quintanilla said, "which you have thirty seconds left to answer. Should you choose to do so."

Cruz's fight against federal deficits and Obamacare led to the government shutdown of 2013 even as it solidified his national reputation. Now, given a second chance to address one of his signature issues, he instead grumbled for thirty-five more seconds about media bias and cage matches. He ran out of time, never having touched the original question, and when moderator John Harwood said, "We're moving on," Cruz's response could only be described as disingenuous:

"So you don't actually want to hear the answer, John?"

Then again, many voters on both sides saw winning as the ultimate virtue. There once was a candidate who changed world history for the better. First he had to win the Republican nomination, which he did after his aides packed the convention hall with supporters who got in using counterfeit tickets. Did the end justify the means? If Honest Abe Lincoln had played by every rule, you might not know his name.

By 2015, Christian conservatives were sick and tired of losing. They gave Iowa to Mike Huckabee in 2008, to Rick Santorum in 2012, and both those candidates lost to other Republicans who then compounded the insult by losing to Barack Obama. Huckabee and Santorum were men of faith. Neither had what it took to win.

Unprecedented 2016



'I was gaslit on live television'

Republicans had elected only two presidents in the last thirty years. Both were named Bush. The first had Lee Atwater. The second had Karl Rove.

Ted Cruz had Jeff Roe, the merciless political operative who once produced a radio ad that mocked an opposing candidate's physical appearance and suggested he could be squashed like a bug. The ad became infamous after its target, Missouri State Auditor Tom Schweich, shot himself to death for other reasons. Now Roe was Cruz's campaign manager. His chief spokesman was Rick Tyler, who'd promoted the error-filled "documentary" on Bain Capital that helped sink Mitt Romney in 2012. One of Cruz's top surrogates in Iowa was the radio host Steve Deace, who kept on the wall of his studio a sign adapted from a line by H.L. Mencken: "There comes a time in every man's life when he must spit on his hands, raise the black flag, and begin slitting throats."

If Cruz lost the battle, it would not be for lack of weapons. And throughout the summer and fall of 2015, his most powerful weapon was Donald Trump.

It was clear from the beginning that Trump was not a lifelong social conservative. If he was a Christian, as he claimed to be, he was the rare variety who said he never asked God's forgiveness. He had once supported both Hillary Clinton and late-term abortion rights, two of social conservatives' worst nightmares. But Cruz made a basic wartime calculation, and it went something like this: The enemy of my fifteen other enemies could be a useful friend.

As Trump demolished one mutual foe after another, along with the notion of political decorum, Cruz stood by and softly encouraged him. In September, at a joint rally in Washington, against the nuclear deal with Iran, Cruz put his arms around Trump. He later said there might be a role for Trump in a Cruz administration. He said President Cruz might hire Citizen Trump to build a wall on the Mexican border. On December 11, four days after Trump's call for a temporary ban on Muslim immigration, Cruz posted this message on Twitter:

"The Establishment's only hope: Trump & me in a cage match. Sorry to disappoint -- @realDonaldTrump is terrific. #DealWithIt"

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Cruz waits backstage with other candidates before the CNN Republican debate in Houston, on February 25, 2016. Callie Shell for CNN

When the cage match finally started, around the middle of January, both Trump and Cruz understood its larger meaning. The winner would be the man who could prove to Republican voters that he was the real American.

In the broad outlines of his biography, Cruz embodied the complexity of the American experience. His father had fled persecution in Cuba and worked his way through the University of Texas, washing dishes for fifty cents an hour, learning English at the movies. His mother came from Irish and Italian ancestry and had split her childhood between the Mid-Atlantic and the Deep South. The two mathematicians settled in western Canada, analyzing seismic data to help oil companies find hidden reserves, and there they gave their newborn son a name that reflected his diverse heritage: Rafael Edward Cruz. For most of his childhood they called him Felito, a shortened version of "Little Rafael," but the kids in junior high thought Felito sounded a lot like Frito or Dorito, and he got tired of all the teasing. When his mother told him he could change his nickname, it came as a revelation. He could be anyone he wanted: Rafael, Edward, Raph, Ralph, Ed, Eddie, or even Ted, a name his conservative father hated because of its connection to a Kennedy. Well, too bad. Felito was becoming his own man. He decided on Ted.

Who would Ted be, and where would he be from? Were his people the classmates from Second Baptist High in Houston, his debate partners at Princeton, his professors at Harvard Law? Was he a product of Texas or the Ivy League? Someone who aspired to the presidency might find a way to be all these things—to use every part of his story to widen his popular appeal. "Politics is about addition," he liked to say. But sometimes he couldn't help dividing or subtracting.

Most Americans who lived through 9/11 remember exactly where they were when they heard the news. Everyone changed somehow. Cruz was a 30-year-old attorney working for the Federal Trade Commission under President George W. Bush. Later, in an interview on "CBS This Morning," he would reveal one of that day's surprising effects.

"I grew up listening to classic rock," he said, "and I'll tell you sort of an odd story. My music tastes changed on 9/11. And it's a very strange—I actually, intellectually, find this very curious. But on 9/11, I didn't like how rock music responded. And country music collectively, the way they responded, it resonated with me.…I had an emotional reaction that says, 'These are my people.' "

The story is oddly relevant to what transpired between Cruz and Trump in the weeks before the 2016 Iowa caucuses. These are my people? Even if Cruz's story was true, it represented the politics of division. Liking country music did not require forsaking rock 'n' roll. Yes, the country singers Toby Keith and Alan Jackson lit up the sky after 9/11. So did a lot of non-country singers, including Tom Petty, Wyclef Jean and Paul Simon, all of whom played a telethon ten days after 9/11 that helped raise nearly $150 million for the victims and their families.

In January 2016, when Trump got nervous about Cruz's rising poll numbers and broke their nonaggression pact, he used the same charge he had long used against Obama: This man is a counterfeit American. Most constitutional experts said Cruz was eligible to be president, despite his Canadian birth, because his mother was an American citizen at the time. Trump didn't care. He amplified the charge with rock 'n' roll, to which he held an unwavering allegiance, by adding Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A." to his pre-rally playlist.

It was high time for Cruz to tell Iowa voters how he really felt about Trump. He could have stuck to the issues, focusing on Trump's many heresies against conservatism. Instead, when the radio host Howie Carr asked him about Trump playing the Springsteen song, Cruz said, "Well, look, I think he may shift in his new rallies to play 'New York, New York,' because Donald comes from New York and he embodies New York values."

With that, the Iowa race became a competition of xenophobias, a civil war of the silent Americans. Trump warned the voters against a "Canadian anchor baby," connecting suspicion of Cruz with antipathy for illegal immigrants. And Cruz cast Trump as a pro-choice cultural foreigner from the host city of the hated mainstream media—the same city where America's gay liberation movement began.

But for Cruz, it was another case of needless subtraction. When the planes hit the towers in 2001, he had a boss in the White House who liked country music and brush-clearing and guns and religion and all those red-state things you expect from a Texas Republican. In October, Bush put on a jacket that said FDNY and walked to the mound at Yankee Stadium and threw out a first pitch that got those blue-state Yankees chanting U-S-A. Philosophical disagreements aside, the last Republican president knew how to play nice with New York.

When Cruz repeated the phrase "New York values" at the debate on the Fox Business Network on January 14, it gave Trump his best debate moment of the primary season.

"New York is a great place," Trump said, his voice going unusually soft. "It's got great people, it's got loving people, wonderful people. When the World Trade Center came down, I saw something that no place on Earth could have handled more beautifully, more humanely than New York.... You had two 110-story buildings come crashing down. I saw them come down. Thousands of people killed, and the cleanup started the next day, and it was the most horrific cleanup, probably in the history of doing this, and in construction. I was down there, and I've never seen anything like it. And the people in New York fought and fought and fought, and we saw more death, and even the smell of death—nobody understood it. And it was with us for months, the smell, the air. And we rebuilt downtown Manhattan, and everybody in the world watched and everybody in the world loved New York and loved New Yorkers."

It took a lot of doing for a Republican to get on the wrong side of Bush 43 with the bullhorn in the rubble, but Cruz had found a way. On the front of the next day's New York Daily News, the Statue of Liberty gave him the finger. Even in the polarized climate of 2016, a candidate would eventually need more friends than enemies. Of his fifty-three Republican colleagues in the Senate, none had endorsed Cruz. Iowa's Republican governor took the extraordinary step of calling for Cruz's defeat. Meanwhile, Huckabee's super PAC called him a fake Christian because of his admitted failure to tithe. The New York Times called him a fake populist firebrand because of an undisclosed campaign loan from Goldman Sachs. Iowa's Republican secretary of state reprimanded him for deceptive mailers that tried to frighten voters to the polls by raising the specter of a nonexistent civil infraction called a "voting violation."

In spite of all this, Cruz still had a plausible route to the nomination. At least two of his top advisers believe he would have won if not for the choice his top lieutenants made in the last hours of the Iowa campaign.

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Cruz fliers are displayed at the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition Annual Banquet and Presidential Forum on September 19, 2015, in Des Moines. Taylor Glascock for CNN

Any explanation of how Cruz won Iowa must acknowledge the fact that he ran a more technologically advanced campaign than any other Republican. Shortly after the congressional election of 2014, Cruz sat down with a renowned data scientist named Chris Wilson and told him what it would take to be his director of research and analytics.

"Senator Cruz would not accept an operation that was inferior to anybody else in the field, Republican or Democrat," Wilson said in an interview. "And that if I was going to accept this job, it was incumbent on me to ensure that was the case. And that any time he ever felt we were falling behind another campaign in our use of data and analytics and just overall, every aspect of it, from machine learning and artificial intelligence, technology and everything, that I'd be replaced. He wasn't rude about it. He just was very clear and matter-of-fact that he expected us to have a superior operation, not just on the Republican side but in the general election as well."

With occasional advice from Cruz's 80-year-old mother, Wilson and five other data scientists built a voter-turnout machine of unusual sophistication. They identified seventy-seven separate issues that mattered to Iowa voters. They built psychological profiles on each voter and determined through frequent door-to-door and telephone surveys the statistical likelihood that any given voter would vote for any given candidate on any given day. Their message to gun-loving rural Iowans focused on hunting, and their message to gun-loving urban Iowans focused on crime. Their message to Rubio leaners differed from their message to Trump leaners, which differed from their message to Carson leaners, 3,185 of whom they considered persuadable in the week before the caucuses.

One prolific volunteer, Bill Charlier, a 38-year-old auto mechanic from Des Moines, frequently included the following sentence in his conversations with other voters:

"Here's why I chose Cruz over Carson."

For evangelical voters who wanted nothing to do with politics as usual, Carson emerged in the summer and fall of 2015 as the gentle alternative to Donald Trump. He began to threaten Trump in some national polls in late October, sending Trump to a new level of onstage histrionics. But Carson fell apart on close inspection. It turned out that a patriotic and religious neurosurgeon did not necessarily make a credible presidential candidate. That left voters looking for an alternative to the alternative, a maverick who actually knew policy, and many of them defected to Cruz. By January, Carson's campaign had splintered and his support in Iowa had plummeted. Three days before the caucuses, Cruz campaign manager Jeff Roe told reporters the argument his volunteers were making to the Carson voters:

"Any vote that's not for us is probably a wasted vote."

He had a point, both in Iowa and beyond. Though not one vote had been cast, polls indicated that only three candidates—Trump, Cruz and Rubio—had any real chance to win the nomination. But one-quarter of Iowa Republican voters would divide their support among nine other candidates who had already passed from the realm of viability. Throughout the primary season, that segmentation would favor Trump. So would the misstep that turned Cruz's first victory into something resembling a moral defeat.

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On the night of February 1, starting nineteen minutes before the caucuses began, CNN senior digital correspondent Chris Moody shared some news about the Carson campaign in three posts on Twitter:

"Ben Carson will likely speak at his victory party in Iowa before caucus results are in so he can catch a flight."

"Carson won't go to NH/SC, but instead will head home to Florida for some R&R. He'll be in DC Thursday for the National Prayer Breakfast."

"Ben Carson's campaign tells me he plans to stay in the race beyond Iowa no matter what the results are tonight."

The news aired on CNN television two minutes later.

DANA BASH, CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: He's going to go for several days. And then afterwards, he's not going to go to South Carolina. He's not going to go to New Hampshire. He's going to come to Washington, D.C., and he's going to do that because the National Prayer Breakfast is on Thursday. And people who have been following Ben Carson's career know that that's really where he got himself on the political map, attending that prayer breakfast and really giving it to President Obama at the time. He became a hero among conservatives, among evangelicals especially.


BASH: Very unusual.

Watching CNN in the lobby of the Marriott hotel in downtown Des Moines, Chris Wilson thought the same thing. He says he believed Carson might leave the race soon, and he wanted Carson's supporters to know right away.

Around 6:50 p.m., as Carson and a spokesman, Jason Osborne, pulled up to a caucus site, their smartphones buzzed with new messages. The news about Carson's trip to Florida was taking on a life of its own. On Twitter at 6:53, Osborne tried to clarify:

"@RealBenCarson will be going to Florida to get fresh clothes b4 heading back out on the campaign trail. Not standing down."

But in the fog of war, three of Cruz's top aides—Wilson, Roe and senior communications adviser Jason Miller—made a quick decision. According to Wilson, Cruz was in transit and was not consulted. Wilson took an iPhone picture of the TV screen. It showed a banner that said, CAMPAIGN: CARSON TO TAKE A BREAK AFTER IOWA. This picture accompanied a notification that went out to volunteers on the Ted Cruz mobile app at 7 p.m.—the precise time the caucuses were starting. The message said:

"CNN is reporting that Ben Carson will stop campaigning after Iowa. Make sure to tell all of your peers at the caucus supporting Carson that they should coalesce around the true conservative who will be in the race for the long haul: TED CRUZ!"

The game of telephone had begun, with the message gradually becoming less favorable to Carson and more favorable to Cruz. CARSON TO TAKE A BREAK became Carson will stop campaigning. In another notification to precinct captains, deputy state director Spence Rogers wrote, "Breaking News. The press is reporting that Dr. Ben Carson is taking time off from the campaign trail after Iowa and making a big announcement next week. Please inform any Carson caucus goers of this news and urge them to caucus for Cruz."

It is not clear what the "big announcement" was supposed to be. Nor is it always obvious when semantic drift becomes an outright lie. At 7:29 p.m., a Cruz precinct captain from the small town of Arion in western Iowa received a voicemail that said, "Hello, this is the Cruz campaign with breaking news: Dr. Ben Carson will be…suspending campaigning following tonight's caucuses."

Big announcement. Stop campaigning. Suspending campaigning. Were these fair representations of CARSON TO TAKE A BREAK? The precinct captain, Nancy Bliesman, said in an interview that she still believed in Cruz, still hoped and prayed he would be the next president. She did not even hear the voicemail until after the caucus. But this was her reaction: "Well, I wasn't happy, because I don't like it when people cheat."

Iowa fairgoers “vote” by dropping kernels of corn in jars bearing the candidates’ names. Landon Nordeman for CNN

How did Cruz overcome a polling deficit to win Iowa by three points over Trump? There are many possible answers. He had a superior data operation. He visited all ninety-nine counties and held as many as seven events per day. His silent Americans—the religious ones—felt an unprecedented threat to their liberty and turned out in record numbers, just as he thought they would. A cattle farmer named David Taylor stopped on his way to the Fremont Community Center and picked up two more Cruz voters, both in their eighties, who would caucus for the first time in their lives.

Months later, Cruz's national co-chair, U.S. Rep. Steve King of Iowa, said not a single voter had come forward to report changing a vote from Carson to Cruz because of confusion over the status of Carson's campaign. Iowa Republican Party Chairman Jeff Kaufmann said he did not believe the messages about Carson played an important role in the final results. Carson took fourth place with about 9 percent of the vote, a point ahead of his final polling average. "I was reasonably happy today," he told supporters before he left Iowa that night, "until I, you know, discovered the dirty tricks that were going on."

Tears came to Betty Odgaard's eyes during Cruz's victory speech in Des Moines. She had stood up for her faith, and Cruz had stood up for her, and more than 51,000 Iowans had stood up for Cruz, giving him the highest Republican vote total in the forty years since the Iowa GOP started keeping count. Newly emboldened, Cruz reached for the mantle of President Ronald Reagan.

"To the Reagan Democrats: Your party has left you," he said. "And the Republican Party wants you. We welcome you back. Because together this year, Republicans and the Reagan Democrats can send an unmistakable message: the message of a Reagan-like landslide that once and for all will drive the liberal elites and the Washington Cartel into the Potomac and out to sea, never to be seen again."

Every time Trump said his name, the words would reverberate across the media landscape.

He was trying to unite all the silent Americans. But the Reagan Democrats were not Cruz Democrats. They were breaking for Trump. So were a surprising number of the evangelicals Cruz hoped to consolidate. Also problematic: Rubio had made a late surge, nearly overtaking Trump for second place in Iowa, and now Carson seemed intent on staying in the race, further splintering the evangelical vote.

Why did Cruz win Iowa? What mattered most in political terms was the explanation that voters believed, and the way it might influence upcoming primaries. "Ted Cruz didn't win Iowa, he stole it," Trump said on Twitter two days later. With a bully's genius for exploiting weakness, he would make sure the Iowa incident followed Cruz for the rest of the campaign. He would make it simple, the way Trump usually did, with a nickname straight out of fourth grade. "Low-energy" Jeb Bush had already been severely damaged by such name-calling. "Little Marco" Rubio and "Crooked Hillary" Clinton would face the bully soon enough. Now it was Cruz's turn. Every time Trump said his name, the words would reverberate across the media landscape. Rafael? Edward? Felito? No. Trump would go with "Lyin' Ted."