Ted Cruz, appearing on Fox News’ Hannity show on Tuesday, responded to news that Donald Trump is ducking out of Thursday’s debate by challenging him to a one-on-one discussion about policy issues. Echoing a challenge he made earlier on Mark Levin’s show, Cruz said that if Trump is afraid to face debate moderator Megyn Kelly, the two could debate somewhere the real estate mogul and reality star felt less threatened, like on Hannity or The Mark Levin Show. Earlier in the day Donald Trump announced that he would be skipping Thursday’s debate because the network refused to bow to his demands that they remove Megyn Kelly as a moderator.
Cruz told Hannity’s audience they should go to DuckingDonald.com to “tell Ducking Donald to debate Ted Cruz.” The site redirects to Cruz’s campaign website, where users are greeted by a splash page with the following message:
If Donald Trump is afraid of Megyn Kelly, then Ted Cruz is willing to debate “Ducking Donald” one-on-one. Ted Cruz is willing to stand up defend his record, anytime, any place. Why isn’t Ducking Donald?
Of course, visitors are asked to provide their names, zip codes, and email addresses. This isn’t all fun and games, after all, it’s about winning caucuses, primaries, and elections. While the debates are important and TV ads are still somewhat influential (less so with each campaign cycle), never underestimate the power of a solid ground game and superior voter microtargeting. (See: Barack Obama. Also see: Dave Brat.) Team Cruz has been building a massive database of supporters and potential voters since he first began his Senate campaign in Texas. The size and breadth of Cruz’s giant data pot expand every time the GOP presidential candidate utters the words “TedCruz.org” or directs people to one of these splash pages or asks them to send a text message to his campaign, which is to say, every time he gives a speech or makes a media appearance.
It’ll be interesting to see on Monday whether Cruz’s old-fashioned hand-shaking and barnstorming in Iowa, combined with his high-tech Big Data efforts can overcome the unprecedented effects of Trump’s bread and circuses campaign.