On Thursday night, at the Republican Presidential debate in Houston, both Rubio and Cruz teamed up to launch an aggressive attack on Trump. It was the first time in the campaign that either one of them had exhibited the courage to attack Trump. (You may recall that during the first six months of the campaign, Cruz did nothing but kiss Trump’s ass.) But with Trump continuing to increase his lead in the Republican nomination campaign, it is clearly apparent that the Cruz and Rubio attack on Trump was driven by desperation, rather than conviction.
What was interesting is not that Rubio and Cruz attacked Trump, but the path they took to launch their criticism. Cruz and Rubio condemned Trump as an entrepreneur, capitalist and businessman. These guys claim to be “consistent conservatives” who supposedly believe in the power of free enterprise, free markets, capitalism and entrepreneurialism. And yet, Cruz and Rubio chose to disparage the only Republican candidate who has any real experience as an entrepreneur and a capitalist.
How Trump Should Have Responded
Rubio criticized Trump for hiring 1,000 foreign workers (all of whom were fully documented and in the country on a valid work visa) for his resorts. Trump responded by accurately pointing out that he was the only person on that stage who has ever hired ANY workers. That was a strong response, but Trump could have and should have gone even further.
Trump could have pointed out that he is the only candidate who has been an entrepreneur, risked his own capital, started his own business, created tens of thousands of jobs and actually contributed to the growth of the American economy. He could have also pointed out that other than Dr. Ben Carson, he was the only Republican candidate on that stage who has ever held a job outside the government sector. (Governor John Kasich did work briefly as an investment banker for Lehman Brothers [before it went bankrupt] between his time in Congress and being elected governor of Ohio.)
Trump could have mentioned that from the day Cruz graduated from Harvard Law in 1995, the only jobs he has held, and the only income checks he has ever cashed, have come from federal or state government institutions. The only exception to this was in 2000 when he was a paid staffer in the George W. Bush campaign. Likewise, except for a brief period after he graduated from law school in 1996 when he worked as a junior law clerk, every single income check ever cashed by Rubio has come either from the state of Florida or the federal government. The only exception to this is that when Rubio was in the Florida legislature, he also worked as a lobbyist for a firm in Florida. The truth is that for virtually all their adult lives, Cruz and Rubio have lived on a government dole. It makes one wonder if either of them have the incentive to change how government operates.
Trump could have made the point that the reason the federal government is so paralyzed and dysfunctional is because it has been, and continues to be, filled with life-long politicians like Cruz and Rubio. He could have argued that since the professional politicians have failed so miserably, it might be time for someone who has lived his life as an entrepreneur, invested his own capital, started and built successful companies, created thousands of real jobs, managed a budget and turned profits to bring that experience and talent to the effort to make America great again.
Trump could have finished off by asking: When you want to solve the problems of government, do you want to hire the same type of people who created the problems, or do you want to hire someone from outside the government who has solved problems in the real world?
The point here is not to suggest Trump will be or should be president, but it does show that if the Republicans nominate either Cruz or Rubio to face off against Hillary Clinton in the fall, we will once again be forced to choose between two candidates who claim they are best quipped to continue to do the same things in government that have been done in the past. It might be nice to have a choice between what has been tried and has not worked and what has not been tried and might work.