Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) finally endorsed Donald Trump this past Friday and he was immediately inundated by attacks from his left and right. The folks who had been upset with Cruz for not endorsing Trump were now upset at him for taking so long to endorse. The people who had supported Cruz in his #NeverTrump-ness now argued that Cruz had proven himself to be a craven and selfish politician. It seems that Senator Cruz can’t win, but that is part of what makes politics such a dangerous full contact affair.
In his note of support for Trump, Cruz laid out six separate and important reasons to support the GOP nominee: nominating Supreme Court justices, Obamacare, energy, immigration, national security, and internet freedom. Finally, Cruz argued, “if Clinton wins, we know — with 100% certainty — that she would deliver on her left-wing promises, with devastating results for our country. My conscience tells me I must do whatever I can to stop that.”
Then on Saturday Houston’s local KTRK news station caught up with the Senator to ask him about the endorsement and the personal attacks Cruz and his family suffered from the Trump team. (Particularly Trump’s a comments on Heidi Cruz’s physical appearance and his implication that Cruz’s father Rafael had helped to assassinate JFK.) Cruz responded by arguing that he and his family had forgiven Trump and that he had not accepted any “deals” in offering his endorsement.
“Listen,” Cruz said. “(In) politics, there’s always criticism. If no one is throwing rocks at you, you’re not doing much of anything. I’ve discussed it with both Heidi (Cruz) and my dad. I love my wife. I love my dad. Both of them have forgiven Donald. I have forgiven him. This is not personal. This is not about our family. It’s about the country…
We have [two] choices. We have Hillary or Donald. Now when this race started I had another choice in mind. I campaigned very hard. Tried to make that case. Out of 17 republican candidates, we beat 15 of them, but we didn’t beat 16 of them and at this point Donald is the republican nominee. At this point it is a choice, a binary choice between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton and my conscience leads me to conclude that a Hillary Clinton presidency would do enormous damage to the court, to the bill of rights, to the constitution, to our freedom, to our jobs. And that’s why I am going to be voting for the Republican nominee.”
Donald Trump had previously said that he would not accept Cruz’s endorsement, but he apparently changed his mind because he told CNN, “I am greatly honored by the endorsement of Senator Cruz. We have fought the battle and he was a tough and brilliant opponent. I look forward to working with him for many years to come in order to make America great again.”
Over at the Federalist Ben Domenech explained what he believed to be the “real” reasons that Cruz endorsed Mr. Trump.
The real degradation since then, though, came due to those who had been some of Cruz’s most prominent backers. The Mercer family and Peter Thiel played critical roles in elevating Cruz from a virtual unknown in the state of Texas to knocking off a popular Lieutenant Governor in an extremely competitive primary. Now they are prominent backers of Donald Trump, and the threat of a well-backed primary campaign for Cruz in 2018 was increasingly real, with Rep. Michael McCaul and former Gov. and DWTS star Rick Perry showing themselves to be very competitive against him. Cruz’s former media backers had turned on the populist, and the potential for a well-backed challenger against Cruz in Texas was real. Had Trump lost narrowly to Hillary Clinton, as seems the likeliest outcome today, the timing of Cruz’s race would’ve made him public enemy number one among the Trump crew…
The move to endorse now seems ideologically baseless, because it is. It seems like an act of political self-defense, because it is. And it seems opportunistic, because it is.