Granted, you cannot do the former without doing the latter, but you do not want win the primary in such a way that it undermines your ability to win the general election.
Enter Ted Cruz, who I know, like, and appreciate the skills he has been deploying in both dealing with Donald Trump and the rest of the party.
He has been thrown off his game late this week defending his amendment to the Gang of Eight plan. His campaign should have done a better job gaming it out with him because his television appearances have been awkward.
Now, to move beyond it, he said something rather ill advised in the South.
Ultimately, this will not hurt Cruz with his base. But it could hurt him when he needs to consolidate the rest of the party with him and make inroads with other voters in the general election.
It also makes it more certain that if, and it still is an if, he gets to the general election he’s going to have to do something bold, like offering Rubio the Vice Presidential spot, to heal wounds.
One does not run for a general election in the United States in the 21st Century sounding like George Wallace.
Of course, if Cruz really wants to have fun with this, he’ll just get to the general election, pull up all the clips of all the hosts on Fox pointing out he supported legalization, and ask, “Any questions?”
Cruz has handled himself not well these past few days, but his critics are crazy if they think it will hurt him with his base right now. And his critics are even crazier if they think Cruz won’t use their insistence he supported legalization once he gets into the general to neutralize attacks against him. Between now and then, however, he needs to not sounds like he’s grasping or like he is George Wallace.
In fact, Cruz could right now turn the outrage to his advantage in Iowa and South Carolina by pointing out just how desperate the Republican elite still are for comprehensive immigration reform.