“Ah, friends once more: Ted Cruz endorses Trump, who says he is honored.” With this headline (in the paper edition), the Washington Post signals its disgust with Sen. Cruz for saying he “will vote for the Republican nominee, Donald Trump.”
The headline is stupid. Cruz’s tepid endorsement of Trump by no means suggests that he is “friends once more” with the obnoxious tycoon. Rather, as Cruz explained, though he has “areas of significant disagreement” with Trump, he cannot stand the idea of Hillary Clinton becoming president.
The NeverTrump crowd seems even more unhappy with Cruz than the Post. Didn’t Cruz say he’s “not in the habit of supporting people who attack my wife and attack my father”?
Yes he did. But Cruz finds the idea of a Hillary Clinton presidency unacceptable. Thus, he’s willing to vote to stop her even though it means voting. as he ordinarily wouldn’t do, for a candidate who insulted members of the Cruz family.
Cruz ought not be criticized for this reasonable decision. Indeed, it might be easier to criticize him if he let his anger over Trump’s insults to family members override his view that Hillary Clinton must not become president. However, I wouldn’t criticize Cruz either for voting for Trump or voting for neither candidate. Both options are defensible.
Cruz’s decision to announce that he’ll vote for Trump may well be based in part on an assessment of his political interests. Post reporter Katie Zezima reports that Cruz is under pressure form donors to back Trump and that the prospect of a primary challenge in 2018 may increase if he does not.
Cruz ought to be criticized for allowing political calculation to influence his decision to vote for Trump and his public announcement of that decision. Why shouldn’t Cruz — why shouldn’t any Republican — try to minimize the personal political fallout created because the GOP took (temporary?) leave of its senses and nominated Trump?
Will Cruz’s “endorsement” help Trump? I think so. Many conservatives are struggling, as Cruz was, to decide whether to vote for Trump. Many of those struggling have a high regard for Cruz. More than a few are likely to take their cue from the stalwart conservative Senator.
I believe it’s precisely because the endorsement helps Trump that both the Washington Post and the NeverTrumpers are so unhappy with Cruz’s decision.