Donald Trump kept himself under control last night in Iowa after underperforming in the caucuses and finishing second to Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) while barely beating Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL). He graciously stated that he was honored by his finish, and then left the stage.
It was the best side of Donald Trump we’d seen yet. He avoided the dreaded Dean Scream™, knowing he still held the lead in New Hampshire. He didn’t implode. He then engaged in a 13-hour Twitter hiatus, prompting Politico to put up a running clock.
And then he came back. And that rare moment of introspection and quietude ended with a bang. Watch as Trump’s controlled rhetoric gives way to enraged ranting over the course of 36 minutes:
My experience in Iowa was a great one. I started out with all of the experts saying I couldn't do well there and ended up in 2nd place. Nice— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 2, 2016
Because I was told I could not do well in Iowa, I spent very little there - a fraction of Cruz & Rubio. Came in a strong second. Great honor— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 2, 2016
The media has not covered my long-shot great finish in Iowa fairly. Brought in record voters and got second highest vote total in history!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 2, 2016
I will be talking about my wonderful experience in Iowa and the simultaneous unfair treatment by the media-later in New Hampshire. Big crowd— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 2, 2016
I don't believe I have been given any credit by the voters for self-funding my campaign, the only one. I will keep doing, but not worth it!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 2, 2016
We haven’t answered yet just how glass Trump’s jaw is in New Hampshire. But he isn’t helping himself by essentially telling his own followers that his sacrifices aren’t worth it. Complaining in the wake of his first loss isn’t becoming – he should be playing up his performance in Iowa and then talking optimistically about how he’s going to beat all comers in New Hampshire. Instead, he’s obsessing and pouting.
Will he collapse far enough to lose New Hampshire? It’s doubtful – he’d have to drop at least ten points in the polls in a week, and then Cruz or Rubio, presumably, would have to bump by at least that much. Playing it cool would be the smart move here. But Trump is pathologically incapable of playing it cool.