South Carolina is going to be a street fight between Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio and Donald Trump. CNN's Theodore Schleifer, after speaking with nearly a dozen people tied to the Cruz campaign, reports that team Cruz envisions an eventual three-man race between Cruz, Rubio and Trump, but the race isn't consolidating quickly enough and donors are holding back until there is more "clarity" race:
Keep the Promise, the main umbrella of pro-Cruz groups, is encountering a flurry of eager donors after Cruz's victory in Iowa, sources say -- but since it does no active soliciting, it has not yet turned that newfound interest into cash in the bank account.
And a separate, newer super PAC, Stand for Truth, only just hired a professional fundraiser, Kate Doner, CNN has learned. Doner was the longtime fundraiser for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, and she has deep connections to many of the major, high-dollar donor networks in Republican politics. . . .
And even the billionaire Deason family, which has endorsed Cruz, has not given to a super PAC.
According to Schleifer, wallets will open if Cruz does well South Carolina and rivals leave the race. The Cruz campaign had $19 million in the bank as of Dec. 31, more than any other GOP candidate by more than $8 million. To encourage the winnowing to move along expect the Cruz campaign to go after the remaining so-called establishment candidates. In South Carolina, the Cruz campaign will likely to focus on military issues and continue to go after Rubio and Jeb Bush for saying they would support requiring women to register for the draft.
As to the street fight, Cruz, Rubio and Trump are already mixing it up. Rubio is trying to keep the Ben Carson withdrawing kerfuffle from the Iowa caucuses alive. Trump is airing an ad still trying to damage Cruz with the Carson thing and the Senate race loan disclosure. Cruz is airing the Playing Trump ad, which is a clever attack on Trump's abuse of eminent domain as well as his un-presidential behavior. Watch the Playing Trump ad:
They all need to hit a lot harder. Will they?