The endorsement of Ted Cruz by Jeb Bush today had a surprisingly enthusiastic tone, with Bush calling Cruz “a consistent, principled, conservative who has shown he can unite the party.” But beyond the positive language, the Bush endorsement is Cruz’s most significant to date for many reasons.
This may seem a somewhat strange claim, given that Bush campaign was never able to attract many votes despite beginning the cycle as the presumed front-runner.
But Bush’s endorsement (like Mitt Romney’s endorsement before his) serves as a tremendous validation for Cruz that he is, at long last, beginning to unite the various strands of the mainstream GOP, both conservative and establishment, around him in opposition to Trump.
Even more important, Bush’s unqualified endorsement is an unofficial blessing by Bushworld for GOP financiers that they can and should feel free to raise money for Cruz without apology and without any fear of “mainstream” backlash. To do otherwise, given Bush’s statements, would be to be “more royalist than the king.”
Cruz has already built a grassroots funding juggernaut and has long had a very strong major-donor fundraising program, when taking into account his fraught relationship to the establishment. But Bush’s blessing can take Cruz’s major donor support to the next level and help provide him with the funds he will need to battle Trump everywhere all the way to the convention and onward into the general election against Hillary.
And of course, this endorsement also frees up some of the Bush’s’ top-flight legal and strategy teams that served his brother so well in the 2000 Florida recount. Given the expected fight at the convention, that sort of expertise could end up being Bush’s biggest gift to the Cruz campaign.