Choose Your Own Adventure
WHEN: It's the summer before the Iowa caucus.
WHO: You are a senator from Texas running for president. You're young and ambitious. You've built your national brand as a "truth-teller" who will "take on the corrupt establishment."
CONTEXT: The current polls are led by a New Yorker who has been a liberal Democrat for most of the past few decades. He is by far the most liberal candidate to ever run for president in your party, and he's actually somehow leading in the polls.
The same liberal New Yorker personifies the corrupt establishment, and you've made fighting them a cornerstone of your career. He hated Reagan, and while he's switched parties a few times while chasing the zeitgeist, he's a massive donor to the worst politicians of both parties. Though his fortune appears to be largely inherited, he dabbles at real estate development which frequently involves large donations to local politicians whenever zoning or regulatory issues are encountered.
You are the true conservative truth-teller. There's a large slice of the conservative electorate that hangs on your every word, believing that you always speak the truth.
A) Take him on. Tell the truth. Stand on principle.
He's a fraud. You know he's a liberal con man. Everyone knows it.
The liberal New Yorker has channeled a certain anger from a slice of the electorate, but behind the scenes he winks and nods to his lifelong friends and co-conspirators in the liberal / New York media.
His record is equally as pro-choice, pro-amnesty and anti-gun as Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. In fact, it's arguably even more liberal, as he's taken recent positions indisputably even farther left on those issues than Hillary and Bernie.
It's time to unmask the con man. Not only is it the right thing to do, it'll earn you points from party activists and fundraisers who are tired of seeing a liberal lead the polls of a conservative party. It will guarantee you air time on TV.
If you succeed, you'll look like a strong leader who can do more than just piss people off. You'll look presidential.
B. Bear hug
* Hold rallies with the New York liberal.
* Declare him "terrific" at every opportunity.
* Compliment him as "brash" whenever he puffs himself up and attacks the disabled/veterans/etc.
* Enthusiastically defend him from all conservative attacks on his record by saying, "[Liberal New Yorker] speaks the truth!"
Your favorability numbers are quite low, leading your political consultants to tell you that getting head-to-head with this liberal New Yorker is probably the only way you can win the Republican nomination. The talk radio hosts and "conservative" clickbait media have shown that they will follow your talking points.
Surely, as soon as you get head-to-head with a liberal Democrat with New York values, there's no way you can lose. Presumably the talk radio hosts will follow your sudden conversion when Mr. New York Values becomes a foe instead of your best buddy.
Choose your own adventure.
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