Remember Ronald Reagan’s commandment? “Thou shalt not speak ill of another Republican.” What innocent days those now seem. Yesterday the Republican party approached self-immolation, though that sounds rather final, and we surely have not come to the end of the story. The leadership angle is that the two leading Republican candidates, striving for the world’s most important leadership job on the morning of the critical Indiana primary, abandoned all pretense of behaving like leaders. It can only be bad, very bad, for both of them and for the party’s chances in November.
The spectacle began with Donald Trump saying on Fox News that Ted Cruz’s father was with President Kennedy’s assassin shortly before he was killed: “His father was with Lee Harvey Oswald prior to Oswald’s being — you know, shot.” You hadn’t heard? Well, unlike Trump, you apparently don’t get your news from the National Enquirer, which recently published that accusation with accompanying photo.
Cruz, knowing that a loss in Indiana would doom his candidacy, snapped and vented his deepest views about his opponent, which is almost always a mistake. He called Trump “a pathological liar. He doesn’t know the difference between truth and lies. He lies practically every word that comes out of his mouth.” He went on to describe Trump as “utterly amoral,” “a serial philanderer,” and “a narcissist.” Trump responded with a statement saying “I have watched Lyin’ Ted become more and more unhinged as he is unable to react under the pressure and stress of losing.”
Forgive me, but these are eight-year-olds. The logical next step was for them to start wrestling and bite each other.
To state the painfully obvious, this is not how leaders behave. It’s pretty much the opposite. Voters’ memories (and the video) of them acting like snippy brats won’t go away, and the things they said cannot be taken back or glossed over. Any hope of uniting the party behind Trump, now that his victory last night virtually assures him the nomination, is gone. Cruz attracted a substantial following, but now, having quit the race, it would seem impossible for him ever to endorse Trump.
After all the incredible twists and turns in this race, the biggest reality hasn’t changed: Hillary Clinton is the most likely next president, just as she was a year ago. I’d be crazy to make any confident predictions, but it’s hard to imagine how the wisdom of Reagan’s commandment could have been demonstrated more dramatically than it was yesterday.
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What We’re Reading Today
Takata to recall another 35 million airbags
The largest recall in U.S. automobile history will get larger through action expected today. It would bring the total recall of the airbags, which can explode on impact, to 63 million. That’s nearly 25% of the vehicles on U.S. roads, but Takata CEO Shigehisa Takada has remained nearly invisible. The costs of fixing the vehicles could cripple the company. NYT
Pfizer approaches Medivation to talk about a deal…
…a week after the cancer drug maker rejected a $9.3-billion bid from Sanofi, which Medivation CEO Dr. David Hung deemed too low. Ian Read‘s Pfizer has approached the company to discuss a bigger offer, but it’s unclear if Medivation will engage. Read’s last attempt to grow through a merger – a proposed $160-billion deal with Ireland-based Allergan – fell through after new government regulations on tax inversions. Reuters
Pulte Group fight heads to the annual meeting
The home builder’s founder, Bill Pulte, and CEO Richard Dugas have been in a bitter fight over control and the company’s future. Dugas has announced he’ll retire next year, but Pulte wants him out now. The annual meeting is today. WSJ
Adidas looks to unload its golf brands
The company wants to focus on shoes and will look to sell its golf brands, Taylor Made, Adams, and Ashworth. The decision by CEO Herbert Hainer comes months before Kasper Rorsted is set to take over. Adidas’s golf brands have long been struggling, with sales net of currency effects falling 1% last year. Fortune
Building a Better Leader
Uber employees’ high price to quit
Few early employees have left the startup because, if they have stock options, a huge tax bill would await them, and since Uber isn’t publicly traded yet, they’d have no way of raising the money by selling their shares. And Uber isn’t helping. TechCrunch
All those first class seats…
…seem to be setting off fights onboard. New research finds “air rage” is more common in planes with first-class cabins. Fortune
The creator of consumer satisfaction surveys says…
…he’s sick of them too. Fred Reichheld even questions their accuracy. Bloomberg
The Primary Results
Cruz exits race after Trump’s Indiana victory
Ted Cruz suspended his campaign after Donald Trump easily won the Republican primary in Indiana with 53% of the vote. Trump tried to be generous toward Cruz in his victory speech, calling him “one hell of a competitor.” From a field that started with 17 Republicans, Trump now faces a clear road to the nomination. Washington Post
Cruz’s uncompromising conservatism failed
His belief that staying true to his conservative values would win the day proved wrong. John Kasich will remain in the race, still hoping for a contested convention and arguing that he’s the best candidate to win in November. Fortune
Sanders wins while Clinton looks towards November
Bernie Sanders won a surprising victory in Indiana with 53% of the vote; he says he’s not ending his campaign and the race isn’t over. Hillary Clinton all but conceded Indiana to Sanders by reserving funds for the national race and turned her sights on Trump. NBC News
Up or Out
Medtronic has hired Karen Parkhill as its new CFO. WSJ
Fortune Reads and Videos
NFL to players: Stay away from meat in China
The country’s largest meat processor was caught using clenbuterol in pigs. Players who consume it could fail an NFL drug test. Fortune
Surprise: Elizabeth Warren isn’t a Trump fan
She condemned his “toxic stew of hatred and insecurity” on Facebook. Fortune
IBM just developed a new research tool for everyone
The quantum computing processor can be accessed by anyone to crunch vast amounts of data fast. Fortune
McDonald’s introduces placemats you can make music on
Place your phone on top to act as a speaker. For now the McTrax is available only in the Netherlands. Fortune
Quote of the Day
“America is hopeful, optimistic. America is kind. We are not boastful or mean spirited. America is brave. We keep our word and we believe in peace through strength.” — Ted Cruz, announcing that he was suspending his presidential campaign. TIME
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