Ted Cruz made a little news this morning, picking up an endorsement from former rival Carly Fiorina, who threw her support to the senator at an event in Miami. Fiorina said at the rally, “It is time to unite behind Ted Cruz, ladies and gentlemen, the next president of the United States.”
It’s the first endorsement Cruz has received from any of the former Republican presidential candidates. Any chance it’ll help unlock some support from the GOP senators who’ve worked alongside Cruz the last few years? Bloomberg Politics reports that still seems unlikely.
[Cruz is] getting no support from U.S. Senate colleagues, even after a seventh victory on Tuesday night in Idaho put him fewer than 100 delegates behind Trump and more than 200 delegates ahead of Marco Rubio, who has won just two contests out of 24 so far.“It’s surely significant that not a single Republican senator has endorsed him, including very conservative senators,” Senator Susan Collins of Maine told reporters prior to Tuesday’s results.When Alabama Senator Richard Shelby was asked, he offered a curt reply: “I’m going to lunch.”
National Review, a prominent conservative media outlet, reported Monday that “more than four” Republican senators would throw their official backing to Cruz this week, though as we discussed yesterday, the magazine has since walked that report back.
The New York Times reported overnight, meanwhile, that it had spoken with a dozen Republican senators about their feelings towards their Texas colleague. The article explained, “Some senators simply said they would support whoever won the nomination. Others smiled wanly, as if wishing they had superpowers that could remove them from the scene.”
Lindsey Graham recently joked, “If you killed Ted Cruz on the floor of the Senate, and the trial was in the Senate, nobody would convict you.” It was a funny exaggeration because it’s rooted in fact.
The more Donald Trump solidifies his position as the GOP’s presidential frontrunner, the more obvious it becomes that Ted Cruz is the most competitive alternative. Some recent polling shows Cruz actually leading Trump – by double-digit margins – in hypothetical one-on-one match-ups against Trump.
Results like these offer a powerful reminder: Republicans who fear a Trump nomination can, and almost certainly should, rally behind the Texas senator. They just don’t want to.
As for why, exactly, Cruz is hated so intensely by his colleagues from his own party, some of this is the result of his failed government-shutdown scheme and the ugly fights he’s picked with the GOP leadership.
But that’s not the whole story. Vox had a good piece yesterday noting that Cruz has also “generated an enormous amount of ill will in Republican establishment circles by launching lines of political argument that they believe he knows to be false as part of a cynical scheme of self-promotion.”
The standard Cruz move is to take some objective that is uncontroversial in conservative circles – repeal Obamacare, defund Planned Parenthood – but also totally unacceptable to the Obama administration and not especially effective as a wedge issue, and then decide that congressional Republicans should achieve this goal all on their own. Cruz’s pitch will be that if Republicans simply exhibit sufficient solidarity and refuse to fund the government until Obama gives in to their goals, that Republicans will win. Then when it doesn’t work, Cruz blames his fellow Republicans rather than blaming President Obama. […]In other words, they see Cruz as really the worst of all possible Washington worlds – an extremist who really just poses as more ideologically pure than colleagues, advancing his own personal agenda while setting back the movement’s cause.
It’s the kind of reputation that ensures Cruz has no friends among the senators he works with, but just as importantly, it creates a dynamic in which GOP insiders face the prospect of a narcissistic reality-show host winning the Republicans’ presidential nomination, and they still can’t bring themselves to consider the party’s best chance of defeating him.