Donald Trump and his campaign knew since last summer how the game would be played in Colorado once state Republican honchos chose to get rid of a presidential preference poll at their March caucus.
They knew an aggressive local organization identifying sympathetic activists would be critical to success in county assemblies and the state party convention. And yet the Trump campaign basically decided to ignore the script, perhaps assuming Colorado's 34 delegates up for grabs wouldn't be important.
But now that every delegate is critical in Mr. Trump's quest for the 1,237 needed to win the nomination, the billionaire gasbag is whining about how he was shut out by Ted Cruz at Saturday's state GOP convention in Colorado Springs.
"The people of Colorado had their vote taken away from them by the phony politicians," Trump tweeted Sunday. "Biggest story in politics. This will not be allowed!" [In Albany, N.Y. Monday, Mr. Trump declared, "The system is rigged, folks!"]
More empty bluster from The Donald.
It's a measure of how important every delegate has become that, as The Denver Post reported Monday, a Trump adviser says the campaign will attempt to woo four Colorado delegates who remain free agents even after they announced their support for Cruz.
As election analyst Harry Enten at FiveThirtyEight concluded after Saturday's shutout of Trump, "Trump's path to the 1,237 delegates necessary to clinch the Republican nomination is so tenuous that he can't afford slip-ups anywhere. And he slipped up in Colorado."
Belly-flopped is more like it.
Not that we support how the Colorado Republican Party decided to select its national delegates this year. Far from it, as we've said more than once. Mr. Trump is right to suggest that the activist and insider-dominated process chosen by the state executive committee in place of a preference poll put him at a disadvantage against a hardline conservative like Cruz.
For that matter, there are more than 900,000 registered Republicans in Colorado, and not even 1 percent were at Saturday's convention. How many of the remaining 99 percent are excited about either Cruz or Trump?
Without a true primary, which is what both parties in Colorado should be conducting in place of the caucus system, most voters have been shoved to the sidelines in this most riveting of political years.
Even so, it's stunning that Mr. Trump was shut out in Colorado, and the problem wasn't just the lack of a primary or preference poll. The indifference and incompetence of the Trump campaign right into Saturday's convention were staggering.
Mr. Trump can point fingers all he likes, but his own arrogance regarding his intrinsic appeal is at the root of his failure as well.
The Denver Post