Donald Trump says that what happened in Colorado is “crooked.”
That’s not quite right, but it sure seems undemocratic.
And it reeks of the kinds of insider politics that has caused widespread disgust with both parties.
I say both parties because, as Trump noted, Bernie Sanders is also getting hosed on the Democratic side.
I’ve been concerned in the last few days that the media’s coverage of the presidential race is getting down into the weeds. The issues have mostly been drowned out, and even the state-by-state contests have been overshadowed by endless chatter about delegate math and party procedures. This is the stuff that media and political junkies crave but that civilians start to find incomprehensible.
But people get it in their gut when someone is getting screwed.
Primaries are the fairest way of picking a nominee. Caucuses are more time-consuming and complicated (although at least folks get to vote). And then there are states like Colorado.
In March, Colorado held caucuses to pick delegates to a bunch of assemblies and conventions. And those people picked their favorite candidate. Ted Cruz won them all because his people outhustled an error-riddled effort by the Trump camp, and perhaps because the kind of party insiders elected to these gatherings don’t like Donald Trump. (Yes, Cruz is hardly an establishment figure, but he’s become the most viable alternative for the GOP’s stop-Trump crowd.)
"The people out there are going crazy,” Trump told “Fox & Friends” yesterday. “They’re going absolutely crazy because they weren’t given a vote.”
National Review’s Jim Geraghty is unsympathetic, saying: “The evidence is mounting that yes, indeed, Trump really is being poorly served by his staff, as his campaign seems to get blindsided by existing rules week after week.”
But the whole point of Trump’s candidacy is not to play the game created by political hacks. Rather, he wants to beat them at their own game.
Yet all this is unfolding before we even get to Cleveland, where some delegates may declare themselves to be unbound and all kinds of shenanigans may take place as the candidates try to woo and even pressure their way to 1,237.
It doesn’t help matters when Trump’s new convention manager, Paul Manafort, accuses the Cruz camp of “Gestapo” tactics. Can we lay off the Nazi analogies, please? John Kasich, with milder language, accused the Cruz team of using strong-arm tactics in Michigan. This fracas has been heating up by the day.
On the Democratic side, Sanders won Wyoming over the weekend, but he and Hillary Clinton are getting seven delegates each. Kind of makes you wonder: what’s the point of voting?
The system of Democratic superdelegates, created to avoid another McGovern-style wipeout, is a huge insurance policy for Hillary. It almost guarantees the party a veto over insurgent candidates.
Democracy can be messy, we all get that. And there is a fine line between complaining about complicated rules and appearing to be whining.
But this is turning into a huge PR problem. And the appearance that the game is rigged will only boost the outsider candidates and fuel public distrust in both political parties.
Howard Kurtz is a Fox News analyst and the host of "MediaBuzz" (Sundays 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET). He is the author of five books and is based in Washington. Follow him at @HowardKurtz. Click here for more information on Howard Kurtz.