Good morning Austin:
Well that was fast.
Not to be a party pooper, but for all the grace of Ted Cruz’s sudden exit from the race, he was outdistanced not just by Donald J. Trump, just hours after Cruz who – with some fresh and very personal experience had castigated Trump as perhaps the most loathsome figure in American public life – but also by Bernie Sanders, the 74-year-old white-haired Lazarus of the Democratic Party, who managed to rebound against the odds in Indiana and, unlike Cruz, will likely take his campaign all the way to his party’s national convention in July.
This is a disappointment to those who had planned to be at the rally with Ted Cruz today at noon at the Embassy Suites in Lincoln,Nebraska, or the Rally with Ted Cruz at the Spokane Convention Center, not to mention the millions of California Republicans who have now gone from being kingmakers to afterthoughts, or the legion of political reporters who last night saw the glistening specter of a once-in-lifetime contested convention in Cleveland flicker and die, or, saddest of all, those unpledged Republican delegates, who have gone from masters of the universe awaiting their star turn, to dime-a-dozen extras.
*NOTE: The previously announced events below have been cancelled.
Of course, there’s still John Kasich, who may be hanging in there simply because he has yet to have earned a belittling nickname from Trump.
At this point, Kasich has about as much chance of reversing the course of this election as a lost Japanese soldier emerging from the jungles of the South Pacific in the 1950s had of changing the outcome of the Second World War. He has to decide whether his ambition is to be vice president/prime minister in a Trump administration, or King of #NeverNeverTrumpLand.
As for Cruz, it is always darkest before the dawn, and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who chaired the Cruz campaign in Texas, had an ingenious suggestion that he texted me last night.
I was honored to work for Ted. He ran a great race. Ted and Heidi gave it their all working 12,15, 18 hours a day for a year. I thought he did the patriotic thing tonight. I know it wasn’t easy but it was the right thing for our party. I’ve said for months I would support our nominee. I will support Trump because we must beat Hillary. I hope Ted and Trump mend their fences sooner than later. I also hope Trump names Cruz as the nominee to take Scalia’s place on the Supreme Court. Cruz would be a great Supreme Court Justice.
More on this – and what a clever idea this is = in a bit.
But first some perspectives on Cruz’s exit.
From Jim Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas.
Cruz’s decision to drop out is very pragmatic, strategic choice. Cruz’s expressed commitment to ideological principles might have led one to think that he would pursue the fight for the nomination to the bitter end in order to serve the conservative cause. Rather than destroying the village to save it, he’s now positioned as the inheritor of the most ideologically conservative bloc of the Republican Party. This begs the question of what the GOP will look like after a Trump candidacy, but Cruz will undoubtedly be one of the most prominent candidates lingering to pick up the pieces in the lead up to the 2020 election.
Cruz started his 2020 campaign tonight based on his speech. He’s not going away nor do I expect him to change his existing (non) relationship with those “Washington insiders” he excoriated during the campaign.
Cruz lost because he was the wrong last man standing against Trump. If there was any candidate a large number of GOP voters were never going to rally around, it was Cruz. And he didn’t care since the campaign thought they could bring out new voters, those evangelicals they think don’t vote, but could be motivated by him. But outside of Iowa that didn’t really materialize. But still, they did a lot with what they had. Last August when I first started watching this on the ground I never imagined his run would go this long. The only thing that has surprised me more is Trump.
One reason he did as well as he did was he has a very smart, very data focused campaign, and they got as much out of the voters as they possibly could, especially given Trump.
His departure’s meaning for the party is simple – they can’t kid themselves anymore, Trump is their standard-bearer whether they like it or not.
As noted above, Cruz in some ways finds himself in an enviable position.
He is very young.
Just because he won’t have completed the full Obama, his political career from out-of-nowhere election to the Senate in 2012 to moments when it appeared he might actually close the deal in 2016 is extraordinary.
His campaign machine was a thing of beauty.
That he got as close as he did after losing the South is, even in retrospect, hard to fathom.
The Cruz crew was so successful at collecting delegates in the post-primary and caucus process that I still wonder if his suspension of his candidacy last night is really a feint intended to lull Trump into complacency, and that in Cleveland, the giant horse that Cruz sends to Trump as a gift of reconciliation will, at the appropriate moment, disgorge 1,237 Cruz stealth delegates.
Also, Cruz wins even if – actually especially if – Trump loses in a landslide.
No one will be better positioned to say I-told-you-so, than Ted Cruz.
But there’s still the little matter of what to do about endorsing Trump.
As much as Cruz might be rooting for Trump to prove that Cruz was right that his candidacy would be a disaster that would deliver the election to Hillary Clinton, Cruz can’t be seen as contributing to his party’s failure in November, or, worse yet, not be on board if Trump sails on to victory.
“I don’t know if he likes me or doesn’t like me,” Trump said at his mellow victory press conference last night where he killed Cruz with kindness.
The beauty – and horror – of Trump is that he may sincerely not know whether Cruz likes him or doesn’t because to him this was all sporting combat, a game. It’s all over. He won. Very nice. High five.
Well, hint. Cruz doesn’t like Trump.
From my story last night.
“If any of you have seen the movie, `Back to the Future II,’ the screenwriter says that he based the character of Biff Tannen on Donald Trump — a caricature of a braggadocios, arrogant buffoon who builds giant casinos with giant pictures of him wherever he looks. We are looking potentially at a Biff Tannen presidency,” Ted Cruz said.
For Cruz, Trump had crossed every line of decency in his campaign against him.
For Cruz, insulting his wife, and insinuating that his dad was in on the Kennedy assassination, is beyond the pale.
But, on Morning Joe this morning, Trump said it would be nice to have Cruz’s backing, and that he has people calling him offering his support who had said worse things about him than Cruz did. Hmm.
But, of course, Trump doesn’t really think that Rafael Cruz was in on assassination because as Trump confidante Roger Stone has written, it was LBJ not Lee Harvey Oswald who killed JFK.
Former Gov. Rick Perry, who back when Cruz was still playing political footsie with Trump, called Trump a “cancer on conservatism,” has already made his peace with backing Trump if he is the nominee.
Last night, Gov. Greg Abbott climbed aboard.
Which is why Patrick’s suggestion that President Trump name Ted Cruz to replace Antonin Scalia is so genius.
Trump has said that he may release a list of potential Supreme Court picks from which he would choose if he is elected president. Among Cruz’s central critiques of Trump – and critical concerns of Cruz supporters – is that Trump cannot be trusted to name constitutional conservatives, like himself, to the court.
A presidency lasts four or eight years, while a Supreme Court appointment can last a lifetime – which in Cruz’s case could have him on the bench into the late decades of the 21st Century.
If Trump were to huddle with Cruz and emerge with Cruz on his short list for the court and Cruz’s endorsement in his pocket, Cruz and his faithful would have a reason to back Trump with a clear objective and some genuine enthusiasm. If Trump loses, no harm, and if Trump wins he can send Cruz’s name to the Senate, which would have to choose whether to send someone they revile to a seat of enormous power on the Supreme Court, or keep him in their midst.
On Monday, in Indiana, the Daily Mail asked Trump if he would consider putting Trump on his Supreme Court short list to heal the party.
I don’t know Id have to think about it. That’s a big question. There’s a whole question of uniting and there’s a whole question of temperament. I’d have to think about it. He’s certainly a smart guy. But there’s also a temperament issue.
He’s got a tough temperament for what we’re talking about. You have to be a very, very smart, rational person, in my opinion to be a justice of any kind at a high level or low level. You need the proper temperament and that would be a question I would have.
Well, that was Monday. On Tuesday, Cruz said Trump was he worst person in the world, Trump crushed Cruz in the primary, and Trump praised Cruz as a helluva competitor with an amazing future.
And if Ted Cruz parlays his brazen presidential campaign into a lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court that will be, in the words of Bernie Sanders doppelgänger Larry David, pretty, pretty good.