I have criticized Marco Rubio for not endorsing Ted Cruz, given Rubio’s strong antipathy towards Donald Trump and Cruz’s status as the only serious alternative to the tycoon. I’m happy to report that on Tuesday, Rubio indicated that he does support Cruz.
In an appearance with Mark Levin, Rubio said “I hope that [the GOP] will nominate a conservative” and that “the only one that fits that criteria is Ted Cruz.”
If this is an endorsement, it is lukewarm. But Rubio isn’t required to be excited about Ted Cruz. He just needed to make it clear that, among the two contenders still viable, he prefers the Texan. [A reader makes the additional point that for Rubio to out-and-out endorse Cruz might prevent Rubio from keeping hold of his delegates through the first ballot].
The problem, then, isn’t the words Rubio used; it’s his delay in uttering them. Rubio lost the Florida primary on Tuesday, March 15 and left the race immediately thereafter. To my knowledge, he didn’t publicly express any level of support for Cruz until four weeks later. Thus, it’s fair to ask what took him so long.
Fortunately, there were only three major primaries/caucuses in the interval (Arizona, Utah, and Wisconsin), and Cruz won two of them. Moreover, backers of Cruz and Rubio reportedly have worked together in Arkansas to pack the state delegation with individuals who are expected to turn against Trump in a contested convention.
Chances are good that Trump will fall short on the first ballot of the 1,237 delegates he needs. Plenty of time remains for Rubio to help ensure this outcome and to assist Cruz in securing the nomination in a subsequent ballot.
Speaking of the delegate selection process, I have to say that Trump’s sense of injustice is understandable. There is something wrong with a system under which the delegates a candidate wins in a primary can actually be supporters of another candidate.
A candidate’s delegates need not be bound to the candidate indefinitely. Delegates must be able to switch in a deadlocked convention; otherwise the deadlock would never be broken. But, both as a matter of common sense and of game theory, the delegates a candidate wins should be in favor of that candidate.
Trump is to blame for not working harder to ensure that the delegates he won truly support his candidacy. You might even say he’s a “choke artist” for not having done so. However, he and his supporters are justified in believing that the system is unfair.