Guest post by Roddy McCorley
One of the untold stories of the 2016 campaign is about a 91-year old woman who died trying to get Donald Trump elected, and her six closest friends who tried to trip her up.
There is a good argument that this woman saved the Donald Trump campaign. Her name was Phyllis Schlafly.
Here’s how she may have done it.
Ted Cruz’ failure to win any states on Super Tuesday II (March 15, 2016) was a crippling blow to his campaign. Phyllis Schlafly’s efforts for Trump and more importantly against Cruz, around whom conservatives and evangelicals were increasingly rallying, proved to be the margin of difference.
In Phyllis’ founding state of Illinois, Trump beat Cruz decisively by eight points that day. But it was the narrow win in her home state Missouri (by 0.2 points) that made Ted Cruz 0-for-5 on Super Tuesday II keeping his name out of the headlines during the pause in the election cycle for March Madness that followed and stopping his momentum, a momentum he could never fully recover with subsequent caucus victories and a lone April primary win.
It was not easy. In Missouri, it was a pitched battle between two Missourians: Cruz’ campaign manager, whom the press dubbed “Ruthless” Jeff Roe, who was being touted as the “next Karl Rove” …. and Phyllis. But Phyllis had seen “ruthless” before, and was fully unimpressed by ruthless.
The situation was that Trump had done well out East, and in the South, but had not broken through in the Midwest. Cruz had won three states that border Missouri: Iowa, Kansas and Oklahoma. Minnesota had even dealt Trump what was to be his only third-place finish in a state. Phyllis immediately sized up the problem: less affected by immigration issues than the South and Southwest, the conservative Midwest was not accepting Trump as a “true conservative”. She set to work, writing a series of articles that would become the basis for her last book, The Conservative Case for Trump.
The signature moment however was a speech she gave on March 11, 2015, four days before Super Tuesday II, at the Peabody Opera House in St. Louis in front of 3500 people and thousands more watching on monitors and smart phones outside. Outside, the fiercest protests yet of the campaign were raging. Agitators had set up permanent shop in St. Louis in the wake of the Ferguson riots. Captured on numerous handheld videos, the protest was unruly and profane. There was even one case of blood-letting. It was everything Phyllis had seen before in her battles against the “Equal Rights” Amendment. She had already been called every dirty name in the book, so had no problem, even at age 91, in crossing that picket line.
Because of some of the outside pandemonium, the rally ended up being the most famous of the campaign, giving birth to the alt-right memes known as AIDS Skrillex and Carl the Cuck and the viral video Black Trump Supporter Accosted by Black Lives Matter Protesters (currently at almost 2 million views). A rally later that evening in Chicago had to be called off because of violence and it looked for a while like Donald Trump would never be able to address his supporters again in person and would have to run his entire campaign through a live feed.
It was a fever pitch at the Peabody that morning. Not for sissies. And where was Eunie Smith? Anne Cori? Cathie Adams? Rosina Kovar? Carolyn McLarty? Shirley Curry?
The six Eagle Forum board members she had hand-chosen abandoned their 91-year-old leader and left her alone to face the mob.
Not only did they abandon her, Cori was back at the Eagle Forum office sending out an email blast with the breathless caption “Ted Cruz is the ONLY Conservative Candidate for President!” And by March 29, three of them were calling special board meetings without Phyllis’ approval. They launched a lawsuit in April to wrest control from Phyllis. And the rest is history. Painful, litigious, expensive (and still ongoing) history.
It was later revealed that Schlafly was fighting lung cancer the entire time. She died in September. Trump spoke at her funeral and Cori who is Schlafly’s daughter, refused to meet with Trump who was greeting the family in an anteroom of the St. Louis Cathedral.
’That is why it is rather rich that they now issue a press release claiming credit for Trump’s win. They wanted Ted Cruz, and there is no way Cruz could have eaten his way through the rust belt like a Pac Man and won Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan. Or Wisconsin, which had not been won by any of the “long series of losers” (the phrase Phyllis used at that rally) since Ronald Reagan. Or Minnesota, where if Evan McMullin’s “new conservative movement” had not gained its third-highest percentage outside of Utah and Idaho, Trump would have gained territory Reagan never even had, namely the “People’s Republic of Minnesota”.
On the Ides of March, 2016, Phyllis Schlafly was a stitch-in-time for Donald Trump. She is why we are not now saying “President Elect Clinton”. It will go down in history as one of the great untold stories of this campaign. But it cost her a vicious fight in the courts for the control of the donations she raised and the trademarks she built for fifty years.