The South Carolina primary results raised red flags for Ted Cruz.
Evangelicals have not coalesced around his campaign like he had hoped even though he is the solid evangelical in this race. This reality reflects the sickness of the church, but it also reveals Cruz must rethink some elements of his communications strategy.
Rick Tyler is an honorable man, but he has made a series of unforced errors lately. The most recent one is latching on to a drive by media hit piece against Rubio where he allegedly insulted the Bible. Cruz needs a change at the top. Amanda Carpenter has the experience, connections at Cruzworld and current outsider view to make mandatory changes. She’s young but extremely articulate and presents a great image. The campaign may need her to right the ship.
Cruzworld cannot rely on Fox News, which a lot of Cruz supporters have concluded is pretty openly playing favorites with Cruz not at all a favorite. Last week I watched incredulously as Rick Tyler played defense of Fox about a postcard instead of turning the narrative around and pointing out the Rubio campaign’s unfounded accusations on robocalls, facebook pages, etc. The Rubio campaign has made several mistakes over the past several days, but the Cruz communications team has proven inept in taking advantage of any of them.
Cruz understands he is running against the media, the establishment and K Street. But Americans have to be reminded of this reality—daily. His team must relentlessly point out the corruption and stakes and find ways to win news cycles and reframe narratives. One way is for Cruz to go straight to the people. Cruz’s strength is that more than anyone on the Republican side, his campaign comes from “we the people.” Cruz ought to do a daily TED Talk where he spends 5-10 minutes every day delivering his vision direct to America and occasionally use props to drive his message home. Cruz should take a question or two directly from voters every single day and answer them via Facebook or his YouTube channel.
Heidi Cruz should go door to door live on Facebook to explain why she’s doing it and how it will take “we the people” to win the election. Cruz should field questions from voters that have doubts about him, so he can answer them honestly and show he’s directly connected to normal Americans. Emulate the Trump strategy of dominating the media by rolling out some edgy, cutting edge tactics. Tweet some provocative and cryptic messages that draw attention to issues that Americans care about. Hold an impromptu press conference with dozens of reams of paper that represent Trump’s and Rubio’s tax plans (maintaining the status quo that keeps lobbyists and cronyists in power and normal Americans screwed). Then shove the reams of paper into a dumpster. Hold up a postcard and explain the flat tax plan. Show up at a debate in a sports coat instead of suit. Explain that guys in “suits” are screwing the country every day and he feels the need to highlight it from time to time. Keep a running debt clock on the campaign bus and talk about its impact while his daughters sit next to it.
These are the kind of tactics Cruz needs to regain momentum and communicate his message. The race has reached an inflection point. Rubio has seized momentum from Cruz. But the dynamics can still shift to Cruz’s favor. Cruz must flip the script by making some tough and strategic decisions very quickly.