In a stunning revelation, Jeff Roe — the campaign manager for Sen. Ted Crux (R-Texas)’s presidential campaign — has confirmed to the LA Times that he helped the campaign of President-elect Donald Trump at a crucial moment in the GOP primary.
Cruz was often criticized by supporters of other Republican candidates for going relatively easy on Trump on the campaign trail, and rumors circulated early and often that Cruz was attempting to force a two-way showdown between himself and Trump, believing that this was the only scenario in which he could emerge victorious in a crowded Republican primary.
Yesterday, Politico noted the revelation that Roe had called Trump’s then-campaign manager Corey Lewandowski after the Iowa caucuses to deliver a warning about internal polling that the Cruz campaign was seeing in New Hampshire:
That Jeff Roe, Cruz’s campaign manager, called Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s campaign manager, was among the tactical revelations of a two-day conference this week looking back on the presidential race sponsored by the Harvard Institute of Politics.
“He said, ‘You know in New Hampshire your numbers are dropping like a rock. John Kasich is going to catch you if you don’t fundamentally change the way you’re running your campaign and go out and be positive,’” Lewandowski recalled Wednesday of Roe’s call. “Because it used to be that when people were leaving us they were going to Cruz but Cruz wasn’t playing in New Hampshire.”
One person familiar with the Roe-Lewandowski exchange said it was more than just casual banter. Cruz’s campaign had daily tracking polls in the field in New Hampshire. Trump’s campaign didn’t. Roe shared some of those numbers to help guide Lewandowski’s decision.
Initially, Roe declined comment on the call and indicated that it was mere “casual banter,” but according to an LA Times reporter, Roe today confirmed that the call took place, and that the aim of the call was to help Trump win New Hampshire, in order to solidify his standing as the frontrunner:
A loss in New Hampshire might have crippled Trump. Instead, his victory there, followed by triumphs in Nevada and South Carolina, virtually assured him the nomination.
Roe, in an interview, confirmed Lewandowski’s account. At that point in the campaign, “we needed Trump” to defeat other candidates, he said, ruefully.
This was not the only example of collusion or attempted collusion that the Cruz campaign attempted on the campaign trail. Late in the primary, when only Cruz, Trump and Kasich remained, Cruz and Kasich reached a deal in which Kasich agreed not to contest the Indiana primary in exchange for Cruz’s promise not to contest Oregon or New Mexico. When the campaigns announced the deal, it was widely considered to have backfired, as Trump won Indiana easily, effectively sealing his nomination.