“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” – John C. Maxwell
Our tumultuous primary season continued in New Hampshire last week, when Trump rose back to the top with astonishing numbers, Cruz placed a solid third in a very establishment state, and Rubio plunged where he was expected to excel. This was just one week after Cruz dominated, Trump disappointed, and Rubio outperformed by 6 percentage points in Iowa. In short, this primary is a dogfight–and a weird one at that.
Ted Cruz –in my opinion, the purest/only real conservative in the race–is being hit from all sides. In Saturday night’s Republican debate, Cruz was called a liar by Trump. In an interview with CNN’s Dana Bash on Sunday, Marco Rubio also called Cruz a liar. Whether or not the electorate in South Carolina, Nevada, and the Super Tuesday states believe the accusations remains to be seen. However, at this point, nothing can be left to chance.
Something that would help Ted Cruz tremendously among conservatives is an endorsement from the only other member of the United States senate who has a higher Conservative Review “Liberty Score” than himself: Senator Mike Lee .
Lee has said in the past that he didn’t want to make any endorsements because among those running are three colleagues he considers friends: Cruz, Rubio, and Paul. Now that Rand Paul has exited the race–and is unlikely to endorse Cruz–Lee has a choice to make.
Ted Cruz effusively praised Mike Lee in his book, A Time for Truth, writing that when he was running for senate in 2012, Lee, having considerable conservative cred, offered to help in any way he could. Cruz asked for an endorsement, and Lee gave one.
Since then, Cruz and Lee have worked together consistently.
When Donald Trump said that nobody in the senate liked Cruz, Lee hit back, telling The Washington Examiner:
“It makes me mad when Trump says that. Ted Cruz is my friend, so if Mr. Trump or anyone else is saying Ted Cruz doesn’t have any friends in the Senate, I can say unequivocally, that is not true. I am his friend and I don’t regard myself as alone in that either.”
Lee also came to Cruz’s defense when the Texas senator was being accused of favoring amnesty:
“I serve on the Judiciary Committee with Ted Cruz. I was there with Ted Cruz the entire time as we spent weeks on the ‘Gang of Eight’ immigration bill. I was there as we both drafted and presented amendments trying to make this really bad ‘Gang of Eight’ amnesty bill not as bad. And at no time during that process–at no moment did I ever see Ted Cruz take any action that was tantamount to saying he was embracing amnesty.”
“And insofar as anybody is trying to suggest that Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio had the same position with regards amnesty or with regards to the ‘Gang of Eight’ bill – that is absolutely false. One-hundred percent false.”
On the other hand, Lee has criticized Marco Rubio –though initially avoiding using his name.
In December, Lee held a tele-town hall in which he castigated certain “candidates” for lying about the USA Freedom Act–which was introduced and sponsored by Lee, and for which Cruz voted:
“…a couple of presidential candidates have chosen to bring it up, in part to inflame the fears of some of the American people. But I want to point out that the arguments being made against the USA Freedom Act are not based in fact. In fact, they’re utterly contrary to fact…I’m trying to set the record straight on that because things that are being said about it are not true.”
A week later, Lee went further:
“Look, Marco Rubio has been attacking Ted Cruz on the USA Freedom Act–for his vote in favor of the USA Freedom Act–and he’s been doing so by suggesting that this has somehow made America less safe. It simply is not true. And look, I’m really good friends with both of these guys, I really like both of them, but Marco’s wrong on this. He’s just dead wrong.”
Given Lee’s penchant for defending Cruz, his antipathy toward the Gang of Eight bill–in which Rubio was a major player–and the fact that Rubio still advocates for amnesty, it seems like a no-brainer for Lee to endorse Cruz. So why won’t he? Allegedly, it’s because he’s friends with both of the senators. However, there comes a time when friendship has to take a backseat to circumstance.
If Marco Rubio is a real friend to Mike Lee, an endorsement shouldn’t be a deal breaker. Rubio would likely be hurt at the outset, but in the long run, a true friend would understand that Lee’s ideology is more closely aligned with Cruz’s.
More importantly, if Mike Lee truly believes that amnesty and mass meta-data collection are dangerous policies, then he should be working to keep Rubio from getting the nomination–or at the very least helping someone else.
Lastly, an endorsement from Mike Lee would be a major boon for Cruz going into South Carolina, Nevada, and Super Tuesday.
If Mike Lee truly believes Ted Cruz is the more constitutionally sound and conservative candidate, it’s his duty to make an endorsement, especially in a race as volatile as this one. The interest of the nation trumps friendship.