Does Donald Trump think he's going to lose the nomination at the convention? Are his current complaints about RNC "dirty tricks," the system being "rigged," etc. a preview of the explanation he'll be offering when he does indeed lose? Yes, and yes, if you buy what former senior Cruz aide Rick Tyler said on today's Morning Joe.
After the show rolled video of Trump's attacks on the RNC, Joe Scarborough said that the Donald had hit the "sweet spot." Scarborough again made the case for Trump, saying "no, that's the speech of somebody that can win 49 states and would be enraged he lost the 50th." But Tyler pushed back, saying "that's not the speech of a winner. That's the speech of someone who believes he's losing . . . He actually believes now he's going to lose this nomination at the convention on the second ballot."
Note: Readers will recall that Tyler was dismissed from the Cruz campaign because of his involvement with an incident in which Marco Rubio's faith was questioned. But Tyler slid seamelessly into his role as an MSNBC contributor and an unofficial spokesman for Cruz, a role in which he probably has more latitude than if he were still with the campaign.
Note Segundo: Joe was on a roll, making the case for Trump this morning. He opened the show by lambasting the New York Times for its headline about Trump supposedly "losing steam," contrasting the Times' claim with a slew of recent polls showing Trump with huge leads in upcoming primaries.
DONALD TRUMP: Our Republican system is absolutely rigged. It's a phony deal. This was a dirty trick. These are dirty tricksters. This is a dirty trick and I'll tell you why. The RNC, the Republican National Committee, they should be ashamed of themselves for allowing this kind of crap to happen. The rules are no good when you don't get democracy. The rules are no good when they don't count your vote. When they don't -- like in Colorado. The rules are no good when you have to play dirty tricks in order to pick up delegates, okay? The party is playing dirty. And we've got to show our Republican party you've been disenfranchised, everybody has. You've got to show the Republican party that they can't get away with this stuff any longer.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: That attack against Priebus may not be a fair attack but as far as message, 2016, Rick, for the people that have lining up and voting for Trump, that's the sweet spot.
RICK TYLER: But that's not the speech of a winner. That's the speech of someone who believes he's losing.
JOE: No. That's the speech of somebody that can win 49 states and would be enraged that he lost the 50th.
TYLER: But he's already setting it up as if he was already going to lose. Like he's trying to find a way to win by losing. Like, if I lose -- and I believe he will lose on the second ballot -- that's the speech I see. He actually believes now he's going to lose this nomination at the convention on the second ballot and this is -- he's setting the predicate for it --
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Interesting.
DAVID IGNATIUS: But, Rick, isn't that precisely the Cleveland disaster moment? He's saying if I don't win, this is rigged. That's basically the pitch here. If Cruz takes away enough delegates through hard work, whatever, and I don't win, it's rigged.
JOE: It's a threat.
IGNATIUS: He'll say that to all the people who voted for Donald Trump and you have in Cleveland just a kind of detonation.
AL HUNT: If that happens and Cruz or someone else gets in on the second or third or fifth ballot, I find it very hard to see Donald Trump up on that stage Thursday night raising his hand with him. I don't think that's going to happen.
JOE: Not in a million years.