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Opinion

Opinion: Wisconsin isn’t Trump’s Waterloo, but it still hurt him

Donald Trump

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump addresses the crowd during a rally at the Milwaukee Theatre on Monday.

(Charles Rex Arbogast / Associated Press)

Donald Trump’s loss in Wisconsin’s primary wasn’t fatal to his campaign any more than his failure to win Iowa was; he still leads in the delegate count and could rally in future primaries, including New York, Pennsylvania and California (where he is leading in the polls).

Even so, his embarrassing second-place finish slows his momentum. And the fact that it followed a series of more-than-usually-wacky Trump utterances — on abortion, NATO and nuclear proliferation — will make it easier to argue that his appeal is finally beginning to ebb. If he loses or underperforms in future contests, it will be harder for him to argue that he was robbed if the party nominates someone else.

Contrary to what Cruz is saying, that “someone else” need not be the senator from Texas.  In his victory speech,  Cruz claimed: “Either before Cleveland or at the convention in Cleveland, together we will win a majority of the delegates, and together we will beat Hillary Clinton in November.” But not necessarily.

It’s  also possible that as Trump wanes, other potential nominees will wax, including Ohio Gov. John Kasich (although polls is his native state of Pennsylvania aren’t looking good) or House Speaker Paul Ryan, the preferred nominee of  many Republicans who speculate hopefully about a multi-ballot convention that would anoint a consensus choice.

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In that sense, it’s  probably appropriate to emphasize Wisconsin as a defeat for Trump rather than a victory for Cruz. Even if he remains the front-runner,  Trump’s aura of inevitability has suffered. And those who wish him ill in the Republican Party will do their worst to portray Wisconsin as his Waterloo.

Follow Michael McGough on Twitter @MichaelMcGough3

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