Ted Cruz gave a very good speech at the Republican National Convention. The crowd was eating out of his hand until the pivot, until the moment came when he signaled that he wasn’t going to endorse Trump. It was when he urged people to “vote your conscience.”
Now he should have wrapped up shortly after that, but he kept talking for another five minutes. Then in Trumpian fashion, the Donald came out to wave to the crowd to step on the last couple sentences of Ted’s speech. It made Trump look like the magnanimous host who decided to take the spotlight off of his wife’s ex-boyfriend.
It’s hard to really see what the long-term ramifications of this will be. Donald Trump said they knew in advance exactly what Ted Cruz was going to say, and they let it happen anyway. Then came the reports that Trump people egged on the boos. Maybe they figured Trump would look like the bigger man in letting an enemy address your audience. What it effectively did is make you forget that Vice-Presidential nominee Mike Pence even spoke.
As for Cruz, he excited people in his base and out. People were dying for someone to speak up at the convention. It was an “in the lion’s den” move by Cruz to turn “we should defend freedom and the Constitution” into a boo line. After all, Trump is the guy who implied Ted’s wife is ugly, his father killed JFK, and who hyped the National Enquirer story about Ted’s multiple affairs that no one sane believed.
Cruz spoke to the Texas delegation the next morning and said he wouldn’t be a “servile puppy dog.” Translation: anyone who did endorse Trump was just that. Cruz can never not throw his colleagues under the bus.
Maybe Ted Cruz over-calculated. After all, everything he’s done has been calculated to win him the presidency this year. It almost worked, save for two problems.
1) He embraced Trump until he became too big to stop.
2) He expected to win the Bible-belt, but most of those states went for Trump.
He will spend the next three years plotting his run for the presidency in 2020. He will give interviews in Summer 2019 where he’ll coyly suggest he hadn’t made any decisions on whether he’ll run for president again. And then around August 2019, he’ll declare. And he’ll probably do well. But he’ll need to make some serious changes if he doesn’t want to be the runner-up again four years from now. His hands will not be clean when Pres. Clinton is inaugurated this January.