Not debating is hurting Trump with some voters already
James and Brooks Schooley are raising a young family in this tiny Iowa community. They support Ted Cruz and brought their kids to an old church near the Bloomfield town square to hear the candidate, along with Iowa Rep. Steve King and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry.The debate cop out adds to the feeling that Trump is too unpredictable to make people feel safe. It will probably hurt him most with undecided voters.
The Schooleys like Cruz's faith and his fealty to the Constitution. But their choice is also shaped by their wariness of the Republican front-runner, Donald Trump.
"He's not principled," James Schooley told me, referring to Trump. "He just goes by emotion."
"I feel like he doesn't stick to the Constitution the way Ted Cruz would," added Brooks. "Once you go away from that, then where's your standard? I mean, you can do anything."
Before Brooks finished, the Schooleys' 10 year-old son, until then silently enduring his parents' conversation with a visiting journalist, chimed in. "He can't control his anger," the boy said of Trump in a chirpy voice.
If ever there could be a cute attack ad, this kid could star in it. Everybody laughed.
A couple of hours earlier, at a Cruz stop 25 miles away in Centerville, Jeff and Jessica Lenik offered the adult version of a 10 year-old's assessment of Trump. They like Cruz for his values and positions — faith, Second Amendment, national defense — and they worry about Trump's temperament.
"He's too much of a wild card," Jessica Lenik said of Trump. "I understand his anger, and I get that, and I understand the people behind him. But I think he's too much of a wild card, and without any background in the political arena, that really scares me. Too much of a hothead, I think."