When then Vice President Aaron Burr shot and killed potential future president and key Revolutionary figure Alexander Hamilton in a duel, the careers of both men were over. Now another “big guy” New Yorker — as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush referred to Donald Trump on Sunday’s “Meet the Press” — is taking aim at another would-be president who was born abroad, Ted Cruz. Unlike Cruz, who entered the world in Canada, Hamilton was born to a single mom on the island of Nevis.
Will this duel, fought with words and ads, ruin both men? Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Bush are hoping so. Knife fights only bleed the ones stabbing each other. Cruz and Rubio have jabbed at each other, and early on Bush-Trump was the main event. But now that we are down to days before real caucusing and voting begins, it is Cruz-Trump that is defining and shaping the race.
My friend, the conservative radio host Mark Levin, weighed in Saturday. It is hard to overstate Mark’s influence among the conservative grassroots, and Mark issued a very very blunt warning to Trump: Knock it off with the absurd attacks on Cruz on eligibility and the campaign loans from 2012 that are now threatening his candidacy. Mark would not object to a policy battle, I think, but the nonsense drives this most serious of radio hosts nuts.
There are signs, many of them, that he is not alone. Trump backed off on the Canada charges, but not the allegations of financial misdealing. That’s dangerous in Iowa. I predicted on “Meet the Press” that Trump might still win New Hampshire, but that Cruz would indeed carry Iowa. What follows in my view is a long slog to 1,236 delegates, the magic number for anyone, and I think lots of GOP candidates will still be in the hunt for some time.
Get your hotel rooms for two weeks for the Cleveland convention. It is a safe move in a very unsafe campaign environment.
This column was originally posted on WashingtonExaminer.com.