The Corner

Politics & Policy

Re: Everyone Get Behind Cruz? Not So Fast

In response to Fox, Fyi

Fred, you write that:

. . . anyone who cares about conservatism or the Republican party or America should do everything they can to deny Trump the nomination. But if that’s the goal, why is Cruz investing time and money and resources on campaigning in Florida, a winner-take-all state that he has absolutely no chance of winning? As a Cruz staffer has admitted, the idea is to concede Florida’s 99 delegates to Trump in return for knocking Rubio out of the race.

If Cruz had left Florida alone, Rubio would have had a decent shot at denying Trump those 99, thus increasing the chances of a contested convention. But that’s the last thing Cruz wants. He’d rather have Trump become president than some compromise choice, because that way Cruz can spend four years attacking Trump and then be the obvious man to replace him in 2020. 

I agree with this. Although I am with Ted Cruz on a whole host of issues — and although I would much, much prefer him to Trump — I will not pretend that the man isn’t self-interested. He is, as politicians invariably are. I also don’t disagree with your harsh assessment that “short term or long term, Cruz is not concerned with what’s best for the country; he’s concerned with what’s best for Ted Cruz.” That much has been apparent for a long time. Insofar as my goals and Cruz’s goals intersect, I am happy to tolerate him. But I’m under no illusions as to who he is, and nor should anybody else be.

That said, there is some case for getting behind Cruz now: Namely, that if one has concluded that Trump can only be stopped at a convention, one might believe that it is important for there to be a clear alternative if and when that happens. In this way of thinking, a Rubio win in Florida might mean that Rubio stays in and, unable to win outright, serves only to complicate the anti-Trump argument. From my perspective, the Republican party can do what it likes at its convention; frankly, if Donald Trump can’t win the race before that point he is owed nothing. But from a PR perspective, it might be easier to say, “we don’t want Trump but we do want the clear next-in-line” than to say, “we don’t want Trump, now let’s pick through this complicated lineup of losers.”

The obvious counter-argument to that is the the fewer delegates Trump obtains, the stronger is the case for picking some combination of the alternatives. This, for what it’s worth, is my view. Still, self-serving as it might be, I can certainly see Cruz’s point.

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