Candidates love coming up with cheesy slogans so this week they should feel at home as Wisconsin holds its presidential primaries. But the savvy Cheeseheads are a tough crowd, not easily taken in by smooth talking politicos. All eyes in DC are looking west where we find my three things to watch this week in politics.
1) LIKE A BADGER – Bernie Sanders is hanging on with a tenacity well-suited to the Badger State. Polls suggest he has a good shot at winning there, and that means Hillary Clinton will have to keep dividing her forces: fending off his challenge while simultaneously trying to turn her attention to the Republicans. She has already bristled on camera at some members of the Bernie Army for pressing her at public events – and they’d love to provoke more of the same. Keep an eye out for more Bernsters trying to prod her into a street fight, while their man keeps grinding away at her lead.
2) CRUZ CONTROL – Ted Cruz keeps trailing Donald Trump in the Republican contest, but with everyone but John Kasich out of the race Cruz is finally close to the two man fight he wanted. He’s hitting Wisconsin with everything, hoping to score with evangelicals. But what you really need to watch is the #AnyoneButTrump movement. If Cruz can get that fire burning hotter, it could engulf a lot of voters and give Trump his first serious worries in this race.
3) DAMAGE CONTROL – Speaking of Trump, everyone knows he’s been – to borrow a phrase – the Teflon Don. He’s said things that would have destroyed any typical candidate. But did you notice all the land mines he stepped on last week? More importantly, did you notice his quick steps to tamp down the turmoil that followed? Looks to me like Trump is making a pivot; he may still say outlandish things, but he’s started cleaning up the messes much more quickly. Don’t just watch the vote. Watch for movement in his approval ratings to see if it is working.
(CNN’s Tom Foreman is the author of My Year of Running Dangerously. He loves cheese)