What do you think, fellow Cruzers (or ex-Cruzers in my case)? Good news or bad?
You could make the case that Trump owes him the job. It was Jeff Roe, remember, who handed Team Cruz’s internal polling data to Team Trump before the New Hampshire primary in order to help Trump win there. Roe and Cruz thought Trump would be an easier opponent in South Carolina than, say, Marco Rubio would be, so they did what they could to facilitate Trump’s stepping-stone victory in NH. Clearly that’s the sort of fancy strategizin’ Trump should want in a new political director for his presidency.
Jeff Roe, a prominent Republican Party strategist who managed Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign, has been seeking a job in the Trump administration – possibly as political director, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter.
Roe, a hard-charging, Missouri-based operative who has also worked for a number of congressional Republicans, was spotted in Trump Tower on Wednesday. Several of his friends said that in recent weeks he had expressed serious interest in joining Trump’s team, and two sources close to the transition said that Roe had embarked on an aggressive push for the political director job.
Wouldn’t be the first time a Cruz operative went to work for Trump. Kellyanne Conway began the campaign as head of a pro-Cruz Super PAC funded by her friends the Mercers before they switched their allegiances to Trump and she duly switched hers.
Besides, if you’re a Trumper who’s allergic to all things Cruz, especially after his pointed refusal to endorse at the convention (even though he did eventually come crawling to Trump), bear in mind that Roe apparently wanted Cruz to take the plunge in his speech in Cleveland:
While an explicit endorsement was out of the question, his advisers and confidants were bitterly divided over whether he should announce that he planned to vote for Trump in November: His campaign manager Jeff Roe and his longtime best friend David Panton were in favor, according to a source familiar with the internal debate, while finance chairman Willie Langston, campaign chairman Chad Sweet, and chief strategist Jason Johnson were against.
“[H]aving drawn his line in the sand,” Cruz’s allies told NRO in that piece from early August, “there’s no chance he will change course and endorse Trump.” Heh. In the end, Cruz would have been better off following Roe’s advice. Sure, it would have annoyed the hell out of conservative NeverTrumpers like me to see him lend his support to Trump in Cleveland, but the entire lesson of the primaries was that conservative Trump skeptics were a fringe minority of the party — and even a solid chunk of those were destined to come around if and when Trump turned out to be a winner. But then, that’s the fatal error of Cruz’s campaign in a nutshell. Again and again, he misidentified the right’s populist base as a conservative base. Lots of us did, me included, but only one of us had a presidential candidacy and many millions of dollars riding on being right. That’s the legacy Roe will bring with him to Trump’s operation.
If you’re still on the Cruz Crew, though, and trying to decide whether this is a good thing or a bad thing, I think there are reasons to like it. Assuming that Roe himself is conservative in his political thinking, it can only help to have someone like that whispering in Trump’s ear. (Although maybe we shouldn’t make that assumption. His firm has also worked against conservative candidates like Tim Huelskamp.) It’s also good news for Cruz’s political fortunes: To the extent that Trump might be tempted to encourage a primary challenge to him in Texas in 2018, having Roe around should warn him away from the idea. Roe might also be in a position to recommend Cruz for any key administration vacancies that open up, starting with the Supreme Court. It would be … odd to see Cruz land a big position in Trump’s government after all they’ve been through, but no odder than Mitt Romney nearly becoming Secretary of State. Trump seems to be willing to let bygones be bygones. Cruz met with him not long ago at Trump Tower, don’t forget, and supposedly had his eye on the AG job.
There’s a reason not to like the idea too, though. If you’re hoping that Cruz and Mike Lee and Ben Sasse and a few others will forge a conservative bloc in the Senate that won’t just rubber-stamp Trump’s agenda, having a close ally like Roe working for Trump is just one more point of influence on Cruz to make some accommodations with Trumpism. Roe will occasionally be whispering in Cruz’s ear too, I assume, and if he’s the White House’s political director, chances are he won’t be whispering “hold the line” against Trump’s initiatives. Ah well. We’re really only delaying the inevitable; Cruz has surely accepted by now that the market within the GOP for Cruzism is smaller than the market for Trumpism and will adapt accordingly with an eye to 2024. At least we’ve still got Lee and Sasse. I think.