Ted Cruz is ahead of Trump in at least six of the last seven polls in Wisconsin (two of them by double digits) and it would appear that the endorsement of Scott Walker along with the #NeverTrump movement have played a large part in that. In addition, the recent implosion by Trump (calling for a nuclear Japan, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia; his ill-advised abortion comments) and his low and disgraceful attacks on Ted Cruz and his wife, Heidi Cruz, have contributed to this as well.
The #NeverTrump movement in Wisconsin led by conservative radio host, Charlie Sykes, has been particularly damaging to Trump. From Politico:
Charlie Sykes left his Monday interview with Donald Trump even more unimpressed with the New York billionaire than he was going in.
As Sykes was trying repeatedly to get Donald Trump to declare wives “off limits,” the morning radio host was prepared for the GOP front-runner to bring up Sykes’ own ex-wife. In February, after the death of former Justice Antonin Scalia, Trump had mentioned two names of judges he might nominate to the Supreme Court. One was Diane Sykes, a judge on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals and the conservative radio host’s wife of nearly 20 years before their divorce in 1999 — not that Trump seemed to know that during the 17-minute phone interview he did with Charlie Sykes on Monday.
“He had no idea,” Sykes said Wednesday during a commercial break inside his WTMJ AM620 studio. “I think someone handed him a card with her name on it. He never made the connection.”
Trump’s unfamiliarity with Sykes demonstrates that the GOP front-runner knows little about the lay of the political land here because if Wisconsin is where his wave finally breaks, it will be in no small part because of Charlie Sykes.
Sykes is Wisconsin’s leading conservative radio voice after 23 years on air and a leader of the #NeverTrump brigade since long before it had a hash-tag. He might also be the single biggest impediment to Trump’s winning Wisconsin’s primary next Tuesday and putting the GOP nomination on ice.
“I’m Masada,” Sykes joked, referencing the desert fortress where Israelis made a stand against an encroaching Roman empire.
In Wisconsin, every conservative knows Sykes’ voice, which airs for three-and-a-half hours weekday mornings on the state’s biggest AM talk station. Many credit him for playing a major role in their recent victories, from Scott Walker’s defeat of the state’s unions and the subsequent effort to recall him to the rise of Speaker Paul Ryan and Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, and he has close relationships with both.
“Sykes has had a big hand in creating Scott Walker and Ron Johnson, who was a nobody,” said Matt Batzel, executive director of the conservative advocacy group American Majority Wisconsin.
It’s happening again, this time in unity behind Ted Cruz, who holds a 10-point edge over Trump here, according to a Marquette University poll released Wednesday. “Sykes is one of the leading factors, if not the leading factor, as to why Cruz is surging,” said Mark Graul, a GOP strategist here who oversaw George W. Bush’s 2004 Wisconsin campaign. “The trusted, respected conservative voices in the state have been anti-Trump from the start, and they’ve become very pro-Cruz in the last few weeks.”
Donald Trump had no substantive answers for Charlie Sykes during his radio interview of him and he appeared to not even know who Charlie Sykes is and was unprepared for the questions he was asked. It also appears that Trump gave up his bargaining chip regarding protective tariffs by telling Sykes it was just a bluff. Trump is not following his own advice regarding deal-making and was definitely not on his game.
You can listen to this incredible Sykes interview with Trump here:
By contrast, you can listen to Charlie Sykes interview Ted Cruz here: