Why Are These Two Candidates So Reluctant to Endorse Ted Cruz?

The way establishment Republicans are anxious to beat Trump, their refusal to endorse Ted Cruz raises questions.

The Newser.com headline yesterday shows there is a pathological reluctance to endorse[score] Ted Cruz[/score]: “Rubio, Graham Aren’t Exactly Endorsing Cruz, But” And then the next line tells us, “Both offer support to senator in his battle against Trump.”

But if [score]Marco Rubio[/score] and [score]Lindsey Graham[/score] are going to help him, then why not endorse Ted Cruz? Newser.com cited a story about Rubio in the Twin Cities Pioneer Press. Interestingly, Rubio said he had no interest in trying to stay in the race in the hope of getting the nomination at a brokered convention.

 He acknowledged he could have stayed in the race with the intention of seeking the nomination at the convention, but said he would have had to run a shoestring campaign with no money to defend himself on the airwaves. Even if he had won the nomination against the odds, Rubio said, the victory could prove pyrrhic.

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“Winning a general election with a nominee that a significant percentage of the base thinks stole it, even though you did it through the rules of the RNC, would be pretty much fatal for the party,” Rubio said, though he added that many Republicans will not vote for Trump, either.

So Rubio shows more humility than John Kasich. Also, his statement raises the question of why donors are giving John Kasich money after only winning his home state (and not by a landslide). Some people, it seems, have no problem “with a nominee that a significant percentage of the base thinks stole it.” They probably have no problem with the resulting Hillary victory either.

Nevertheless, Rubio has not endorsed Ted Cruz.

He didn’t endorse either Texas Sen. Ted Cruz or Ohio Gov. John Kasich, the two other remaining candidates. But Rubio praised Cruz as “the only conservative left in the race.”

Not only is he the only conservative but he has won the most victories, coming in second to Trump. Yet Kasich gets support and Rubio refuses to endorse Cruz! In fact, Rubio’s stubborn refusal to drop out before Florida probably cost Cruz North Carolina and gave it to Trump (thankfully, it was not a winner-take-all state).

Then there is Lindsey Graham.

Parts of this sound like an endorsement, but it falls short. According to CNN,

Still, Graham said he believes that the third remaining Republican candidate for president, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, would be “the most viable general election candidate,” but that he does not see how Kasich can win the primary.

So he’ll help Cruz win delegates in the hope that he can get enough to win the nomination. But if it turns into an open convention, Graham will probably endorse Kasich.

In Graham’s case, since he attacked Cruz so strongly, not endorsing him is a little bit more understandable. To endorse Cruz would involve a lot of explaining. And besides, Graham endorsed Jeb Bush and we saw how much that helped the Bush campaign. It wouldn’t do much for Graham to endorse Ted Cruz. Hooking Cruz up with more campaign cash is probably a much more effective way to help him.

But is he saving his endorsement for a brokered convention and a more establishment candidate? I fear so.

Joe Scudder

Joe Scudder is the "nom de plume" (or "nom de guerre") of a fifty-ish-year-old writer and stroke survivor. He lives in St Louis with his wife and still-at-home children. He has been a freelance writer and occasional political activist since the early nineties. He describes his politics as Tolkienesque.

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