Republican National Convention — Day Three
Holy cow! What Ted Cruz just did is going to leave a mark — both on the Republican Party and on Cruz's political career. People have been speculating all week about whether Cruz would endorse Trump during his prime time speech on Wednesday. This primary was one of the most bitter in recent memory and Trump repeatedly attacked Cruz's character, even suggesting that Cruz's father was involved in JFK's assassination. Suffice it to say that there's no love lost between the two. Cruz, for his part, has to balance competing interests. His "brand" as a senator has been as an outsider, someone who refuses to go along to get along, even when faced with intense pressure from party bosses. Yet he's still a U.S. senator and, some would say, has a responsibility as a member of the Republican Party to help get a Republican elected as president.
In the end, Cruz encouraged Republicans to vote for...Republicans. However, he stopped short of endorsing Trump. In a speech interrupted several times by protesters, Cruz encouraged people to vote their conscience and elect candidates who would uphold the Constitution. But he never actually said the word "endorse," a fact that did not go unnoticed by the delegates. They roared their disapproval and essentially booed Cruz off the stage.
With this move, Cruz protects his "brand" with hardcore conservative activists, but likely loses some political capital with mainstream Republicans who are supporting Trump. That said, if Cruz had come out and said something along the lines of "Eh, ignore all my warnings about how dangerous this man is...we're besties now!" it would have put him in a very awkward position with his supporters (and donors). There is going to be a lot of fallout after his election — wreckage to clean up on a lot of fronts. Not a lot of people will emerge from it unscathed I suspect.