Just last week, Lindsey Graham spoke at the Washington Press Club Foundation Dinner and delivered some good one-liners. His jokes about one of his fellow senators seemed especially pointed: “If you killed Ted Cruz on the floor of the Senate, and the trial was in the Senate, nobody would convict you,” Graham said.
Less than a week later, as Super Tuesday election results came in, the South Carolina Republican said something quite different about his Texas colleague. “Ted Cruz is not my favorite by any means,” Graham told CBS. “We may be in a position where we have to rally around Ted Cruz as the only way to stop Donald Trump.”
And if Cruz is now the go-to stop-Trump candidate – the Texas senator has more wins, delegates, and money than Marco Rubio – who would be Cruz’s running mate? Apparently some Republicans have that worked out, too. Erick Erickson, a prominent voice in GOP media, published his call for the 2016 Republican ticket yesterday.
It is time for Rubio to accept he will not be the nominee. He keeps telling us he will pay the bill tomorrow, but tomorrow has not yet come and he is behind by double digits in his home state.It is time for Ted Cruz to accept we need a unity ticket and for Rubio to agree to be Cruz’s Vice Presidential pick, uniting the outsider and insider factions of the party and stopping Trump in the process.
Erickson pointed to the 1980 example of Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, rivals for the GOP nomination, agreeing to team up on the same ticket, setting aside “personal and policy differences to unite for the good of the country.”
Glenn Beck, a Cruz enthusiast, also loves the pairing, telling his radio listeners yesterday that he wants a Cruz-Rubio ticket. “They should announce this and run with this. This should go all over the Internet. I think this is doable, and this is absolutely unstoppable,” Beck said.
True to form, Beck went on to say that the Cruz-Rubio administration would put Mike Lee on the Supreme Court, make Rand Paul the Treasury secretary, and help elect Ben Carson to Rubio’s Senate seat in Florida.
And while I hate to rain on the right’s parade, now seems like a good time to point out what a terrible idea this is.
Just on the surface, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are two young, Southern, first-term senators who have collectively accomplished nothing. It’s hardly a match-up made in political heaven.
But just as important is the key difference between this imagined pairing and the Reagan-Bush ticket in 1980. The idea of two rivals coming together can make sense, and has some precedent in the American tradition, but let’s not forget that Reagan and Bush were the top two candidates that year. The race for the GOP nomination was down to just this duo, and for a variety of reasons, it made sense for the frontrunner (Reagan) to add his principal challenger (Bush) to his team.
But trying to apply this model to 2016 is difficult because neither Cruz nor Rubio are actually winning the race for the nomination. On the contrary, there’s that other guy – I think his name is Donald Trump – who has more wins, and nearly as many delegates, as Cruz and Rubio put together.
Pairing a field’s #1 candidate with its #2 candidate has some advantages, but creating a ticket featuring #2 and #3 means pushing two unsuccessful candidates together in the hopes of finding success.
There has to be a smarter way for the right to achieve its goals.
Update: It looks like National Review is on board with the same gambit.