Podesta to Donors: Cruz Is Likely GOP Nominee

john podesta

This article first appeared in Politico. 

Donald Trump’s apparent belief that the Republican primary contest is now a two-person race between himself and Ted Cruz isn’t exactly shared at the top of Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta handicapped the GOP race for 90 Democratic donors assembled at a private fundraising event in Berkeley, California, on Thursday night, according to a Clinton backer who was in the room, telling the crowd that he viewed Cruz as the likeliest nominee, followed by Trump, and then Marco Rubio.

Podesta’s remarks — which he made sure to say represent his own views, not an official campaign position — came after the real-estate magnate proposed a blanket ban on Muslims entering the United States, and Podesta suggested that the resulting surge of attention being paid to Trump didn’t change his belief that Cruz was the likeliest pick.

But he did confirm that the Democratic front-runner’s recent moves to use Trump’s remarks as an anchor to drag down the rest of the Republican Party was a concerted political strategy — and that the donors shouldn’t expect the strategy to go away anytime soon.

The crux of that argument is not that the other candidates are afraid to criticize Trump, Podesta told the donors: it’s that they agree with him.

The top-ranking official on Clinton’s team, Podesta has mostly stayed away from the public eye during the campaign apart from the occasional television interview, instead keeping his focus on private events. Thursday night’s fundraiser was closed to reporters, like all of Clinton’s campaign cash events.

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