For a guy known for making bombastic, off-the-wall speeches, Donald Trump's Iowa speech was something genuinely new: a conventional concession speech. He thanked the voters and declared his love for Iowa. He congratulated Ted Cruz on his victory. He described Mike Huckabee, who is dropping out of the race, as "a really good friend of mine." He didn't say anything crazy. He didn't insult anyone.
In fact, Trump's speech was so conventional that I was initially tempted not to write about it at all.
And then I realized that's exactly what Trump wanted me to do.
A few weeks ago, Vox's David Roberts explained Donald Trump's Achilles heel. The central argument of the Trump campaign is that Donald Trump is a winner and American needs to start winning again.
But Roberts pointed out that this strategy has an inherent danger: "If your value proposition is that you're a winner, your value evaporates the minute you're no longer winning. Losing refutes a winner, and no one wins forever."
Trump's meticulously boring concession speech makes it clear that Trump understands this danger perfectly. Ordinarily, his goal in every speech is to make headlines and increase his own name recognition. But tonight he had the opposite goal: He wanted his concession speech to be as boring as possible so that it would get as little coverage as possible. Any story about his speech is also going to be a story about how he didn't win the race. And coverage about him not being a winner is toxic to his argument about being the guy who can make America win again.