Ted Cruz started off with a powerful speech last night – then shot himself in the foot.
Think back to the first Republican debate. All the candidates were asked if they’d back the eventual Republican nominee, whoever it may be. All pledged – except Donald Trump – earning him boos from the audience and criticism from the other candidates.
Trump is now the nominee, and they’re the hypocrites. Marco Rubio, Jeb! Bush, John Kasich, and Ted Cruz have yet to endorse the candidate. Cruz was the only one to attend the RNC, and even during his speech last night, refused to endorse Trump, instead encouraging voters to “vote their conscience.”
After Ted Cruz’s stunning refusal to back Donald Trump in his address to the Republican National Convention on Wednesday evening, Trump emerged from the wings, smiling and applauding as he waved to the crowd. Later, he tweeted that he had seen the speech beforehand, and let Cruz deliver it anyway.
Whether that is true or not, Trump clearly gave Cruz the rope to hang himself. Rather than rising above politics, and rising to the occasion, Cruz proved Trump right about his character.
As I noted yesterday, there were three possibilities for Cruz’s address.
1. He could give a full-throated endorsement to Trump, which would be regarded as expedient and insincere, and which his own supporters would reject.
2. He could use the national stage to trash Trump, which would satisfy the #NeverTrump faction but end his own career in the GOP.
3. He could make a limited, pragmatic case for Trump, noting that for all his flaws, Trump is the only means to conservative victory, for now.
And what did he end up doing? “He lived down to an ugly nickname: “Lyin’ Ted.” Trump was damaged, but smiling. He had finally been proved right.”