Tonight could get very interesting as Texas Sen. Ted Cruz gets on stage to give a speech that will be watched by millions.
Trump supporters and many Republicans are hoping Cruz will endorse Trump tonight in a motion to further unify the Republican Party.
A Cruz adviser said the speech will be optimistic and about the path forward. Cruz will encourage Republicans to not grow dejected about conservatism’s future, but it is looking unlikely that Cruz will be giving an endorsement tonight.
The reason Cruz may not endorse Trump tonight is simple. He is looking towards the future, and embracing the spotlight early on to make a run for president in 2020 if Hillary wins the election this year.
According to CNN:
Cruz’s team, which has largely remained intact in the three months since he dropped out, speaks freely about a 2020 bid, and the speech is sure to be seen as an informal kickoff for that re-run if Hillary Clinton wins. A top political strategist — David Polyansky — will soon become his Senate office’s chief-of-staff, and he has kept in touch with top allies and donors that could give him an enormous head start four years from now.
Cruz is popular with a party base that is trending rightward. He earned grudging respect from the establishment for his wily political talent. And if Trump does lose and send the GOP toward soul searching, Cruz allies see him as an elixir, an unblemished Republican who stuck to principle unlike possible rivals Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan or Mike Pence, who all have backed Trump.
And it’s a power that Trump himself recognizes, granting Cruz a speaking slot weeks after he unequivocally said that no Republican would grace the stage if they didn’t endorse him. Cruz declined to, but Trump — courting a conservative movement that still does not totally trust him — conceded.
But power has risks, as Cruz World has been reminded this week.
Even though his campaign tried to keep the anti-Trump movement at arm’s length this week, his allies were tied to some of the floor activity Monday that served to embarrass the Republican National Committee and Trump. Cruz aides made clear that they did not support efforts to strip Trump of the nomination, but the activity of Lee and a key Cruz adviser — Ken Cuccinelli — in behind-the-scenes hijinks muddied the waters about where Cruz stood, especially since he declined to ever disavow the machinations.
“That’s frustrating to us Cruz people,” said Clint Moore, a rules guru from Texas who has known Cruz since he was 17. “All of us who are Cruz supporters and who wanted a roll call yesterday are tagged as Never Trump people, which is totally ridiculous.”
And his reluctance to endorse Trump has caused some Republicans to see him as a less-than-loyal soldier for the party. Should Trump lose by a close margin, perhaps, Cruz could find himself subject to recriminations from Trump voters who feel that Cruz placed his own personal ambition above the good of the party.
“It’s the candidate that gets the most votes wins. That’s just the way it is,” said Sen. John Cornyn, Cruz’s Texas colleague who told reporters that Cruz should endorse Trump. “People are going to have their own timetable and their own way of adjusting to that reality.”
Some Republicans are giving him the space to come around, confident that he just needs a few more moments of solace before making the right decision.
“He didn’t say he wasn’t going to vote for him. He just said he was not enthusiastic about it,” said Don Huffines, a Texas state senator from a powerful Dallas family. “And I think it’s easy to change his mind.”