What an amazing spectacle at the Republican National Convention.
Towards the end of a speech during which GOP delegates were cheering Cruz, the crowd turned on him when he implored delegates and those of us watching at home to vote “our conscience” for “candidates up and down the ticket.” This incited the crowd which demanded, “Endorse Trump!!! Endorse Trump!!!” but Cruz wouldn’t budge. Trump then walked out of the room no doubt seething in anger. I am sure we will soon hear the words “Lyin’ Ted” traverse Trump’s lips once again.
The panel on FNC was nearly apoplectic at Cruz’s actions. Tucker Carlson demanded to know why Cruz’s speech wasn’t vetted, Brit Hume said that Cruz had spent months sucking up to Trump (which is true) while Chris Wallace chided Cruz for not endorsing Trump in the way Ronald Reagan endorsed Gerald Ford at the conclusion of the 1976 Republican National Convention. Well, last I checked, Ford never criticized Nancy Reagan’s physical appearance nor did he claim Reagan’s father was involved in the JFK assassination (which would have been remarkable given Ford’s involvement with the Warren Commission). Mind you, Trump made his this allegation against Cruz’s father the day he effectively clinched the Republican nomination. What was the point? Whatever the point, Trump did nothing to earn Cruz’s support.
It was interesting to see Newt Gingrich try to say that Cruz’s remarks were open to interpretation given that he said people could vote their conscience. For many people, their consciences will draw them to Trump. But I don’t think the delegates bought it.
Obviously, Cruz has made a calculated risk in choosing not to explicitly endorse Trump. This is all looking forward to 2020. Yes, Trump could get elected and succeed beyond anyone’s expectations. But there’s a good chance that a) Trump will lose to Hillary or b) Trump will get elected and completely fall on his face. Either way, Cruz will be ready to pick up the pieces. Of course, even if these two scenarios come to pass, Republicans might never forgive him for refusing to endorse Trump and will pass him by for some other savior. It is entirely possible his political ambitions may never be viable again after tonight.
But I think Cruz is well aware of this possibility just as he was well aware that millions of people would see him get booed tonight for not endorsing Trump. Given the vitriol Trump’s supporters have towards anyone who views him as anything less than a deity, Cruz’s willingness to speak his conscience took a hell of a lot of courage.
P.S. If Ted Cruz’s political career is indeed over then he died standing tall instead of living on his knees.