Last night, it was former Republican presidential candidate and Texas Senator Ted Cruz’ turn to take the stage at the Republican National Convention and give his speech. While that speech was nearly as much of a barn-burner as former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s Monday-night speech, it may ultimately have resulted in something negative against the Senator in what it did not do.
Sen. Cruz did not end up fully endorsing Donald Trump as the GOP candidate.
In this case, however, it wasn’t so much the fact that Sen. Cruz didn’t endorse Donald Trump that could have negative repercussions here; instead, and as with most situations like this, it has to do with why he did not endorse.
Today, the political section of the AJC ran a great story generally covering the drama that occurred last night on the convention floor. Lots of machinations were going on behind the scenes (including how the Trump campaign handled Sen. Cruz’ speech delivery while having had a copy of it well beforehand — this is Donald Trump’s convention, after all), but what really got my attention was the following:
[Donald Trump presidential campaign chairman Paul] Manafort also expounded on the issue of the pledge GOP candidates signed onto last year during a debate in this same arena:
“He was the only speech in the convention that was poorly received by the body in the hall. That was Senator Cruz’ decision. Mr. Trump invited him because he wanted him to have the opportunity to speak.
“As to their obligations, they all signed pledges. Everybody knew about the pledges. They knew what that meant, what obligation that put on them. Senator Cruz, a strict constitutionalist, chose not to accept the strict terms of the pledge that he signed. As far as the contract was concerned, he was the one in violation, not anybody else.”
Back in September, 2015, CNN reported that all candidates at that time signed a pledge to support whomever the eventual GOP candidate would be (the news outlet included an embedded video of Mr. Trump’s presser at the time).
In spite of this, here was Sen. Cruz’ response (also reported by Fox News):
…Cruz, amid some contentious exchanges with delegates, suggested endorsing Trump would have been the easy option.
But he said, “Whether you want me to or not, I’m not going to lie to you, and what I said last night is what I believe.”
And he made clear that part of the reason was personal, referencing campaign swipes at his family in explaining why he broke a primary campaign pledge to back the eventual nominee.
“I’ll tell you the day that pledge was abrogated was the day this became personal — I am not in the habit of supporting people who attack my wife and attack my father,” he said.
One delegate said, “Get over it. This is politics.”
Cruz responded, “No, it is not. It’s about right and wrong.”
In fact, instead of outright endorsing the duly-nominated candidate as he promised, Sen. Cruz — in his “vote your conscience” admonition — quite ironically gave former Secretary of State and presumed Democrat nominee for president Hillary Clinton her own campaign fodder:
Vote your conscience. https://t.co/xahMq2sU1q
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) July 21, 2016
So, on the one hand, Sen. Ted Cruz goes on the record with signing a pledge to support the eventual GOP nominee, continues to promulgate the idea that he’s a defender of the American Constitution, but on the other, once things get tough, he backs down from what he says he’s going to do.
Why do I think he did what he did in his non-endorsement? I think he’s among those who believe that Hillary Clinton will be winning in a landslide in November, and Sen. Cruz thinks that he’ll be simply waiting in the proverbial wings (come 2020) to pick up the pieces of the party, where everyone that he sees as behind a flawed candidate will then flock to him to be the next GOP nominee.
Unfortunately for the Senator, the presidential primary statistics simply don’t match up with this alleged theory. In fact, the increase in numbers of GOP primary voters versus the decrease for the Democrats is so lopsided as to be hilariously different (overall, I believe the GOP was up over 60% versus the Democrats being down something like %30). Further, this doesn’t take into account the fact that Donald Trump garnered more primary votes than any other GOP candidate in the history of the Republican Party.
I’m simply not seeing the factual case to be made for an alleged Hillary Clinton landslide.
Regardless even of this point, I take serious issue with a man who backs out of a signed pledge simply due to the fact (as he himself put it) that rhetorical attacks were levied against him during the primary campaign. Given this rationale, the Senator has stepped beyond a principled disagreement with Donald Trump or even the Republican Party; if that were the issue, I’d be completely for his stance.
But he went further.
A presidential primary campaign is absolutely going to be full of all sorts of rhetorical jabs, innuendo, insinuations, and outright half-baked claims — levied both by the complainer as well as others (and they were).
What are you going to do in a presidential general election campaign when the other side ratchets up the rhetoric by at least five times what you’re used to?
What else would you be backing away from at that point?
Don’t claim to keep commitments to the voters but yet refuse to keep a commitment you made back when you had a chance to be the nominee. That’s just a tad hypocritical. If you’re backing from your word in the “small things,” you’ll do the same in the “big things.”
Ergo, what makes you, Sen. Ted Cruz, any different from those you claim to despise, who go against their word and don’t represent constituencies — much less conservatism — properly?
Et tu, Ted Cruz?