Via Gateway Pundit, I thought no candidate statement would be more #NeverTrump than Rubio’s press conference before Florida but Cruz gives him a run for his money in the clip below. It’s an answer to a question about something he said yesterday:
Urging voters to pick him over rival and Republican front-runner Donald Trump, presidential candidate Ted Cruz framed the battle to win the Indiana primary as a choice between good and evil.
“I believe in the people of the Hoosier state. I believe that the men and women gathered here and the goodness of the American people, that we will not give into evil but we will remember who we are and we will stand for our values,” Cruz said at a rally in La Porte, Indiana.
Evil? Is that what’s on the brink of winning Indiana? Yep, per Cruz surrogate Glenn Beck:
“God is making sure that every single person, every single voice is being heard this time around. He’s not going to say: ‘Oh well somebody on the east coast did it. Somebody in Florida did it,'” Beck said. “He wants you to know, in Indiana, that you are putting your name down on good or evil, liberty or slavery, you are making the decision.”
A vote for Ted is a vote according to the word of God, said Cruz’s father Rafael:
In a brief video conversation with Clark posted on the AFA Indiana Facebook page, Rafael Cruz made the case for Ted. “I implore, I exhort every member of the Body of Christ to vote according to the word of God, and vote for the candidate that stands on the word of God and on the Constitution of the United States of America,” Cruz said. “And I am convinced that man is my son, Ted Cruz. The alternative could be the destruction of America.”
What’s the angle here? Follow the last link to Byron York’s piece and you’ll see. Cruz doesn’t have strong support from a popular governor in Indiana, as he had in Wisconsin; he’s also working without an influential conservative talk-radio community to move Republican opinion. His strategy to fill in those gaps has been to reach out to evangelical leaders and ministers across the state, hoping that they’ll drive turnout among the type of grassroots conservative Christians who broke for Trump instead of Cruz across the south. Cruz and his allies are appealing as starkly as they can to those voters’ values by framing the race as good versus evil. That’s also why, I take it, Cruz has spent so much time lately attacking Trump for opposing North Carolina’s public restroom law for transgenders, which he fears will put children in jeopardy, and why he hammered Trump all weekend for his chumminess with convicted rapist Mike Tyson. (Trump on Tyson: “You know, all the tough guys endorse me. I like that, OK?”) It’s an argument about Trump’s callousness towards the vulnerable more so than it is a policy argument.
Attacking Trump’s relationship with Tyson is also a way for Cruz to appeal to women, the other prong of what’s left of his Indiana strategy. Naming Carly Fiorina his VP-in-watching was part of that too, with Cruz arguing more recently that Trump has a problem with “strong women.” He’s done indicting Trump for not being a conservative; voters know that and most of them don’t care. The point he’s pushing now is that Trump is simply a bad guy, which is actually truer to the heart of the #NeverTrump position than the ideological argument against Trump is. Ultimately #NeverTrump is about character, and the character of some of his most stalwart supporters, not about politics. It’s a claim that Trump is unfit for office, even if he were to take a Cruzian policy line all the way to November. That’s what Cruz is after (and what Rubio was after in his presser before Florida) when he says here, “We are not a bitter, angry, petty, bigoted people.” We’ll see about that tomorrow night, I guess — just like we’ll see how serious Cruz is about his moral objections to Trump if/when Trump clinches and Cruz faces demands from many in his base to suck it up and back Trump in the name of party unity. It’s one thing to endorse a guy whom you disagree with on policy, it’s another to do it when you’ve argued, for all intents and purposes, that he’s grossly unfit to lead America. Marco Rubio already failed the #NeverTrump sincerity test by insisting recently that he’ll support whoever the GOP nominee is in the name of stopping Hillary. Will Cruz stand firm? Or will he decide that electing Donald Trump isn’t necessarily a sign of a “bitter, angry, petty, bigoted people” after all?
Cruz was cruising along a few points behind Trump until April 21, at which point the bottom started to fall out. That’s probably due to the results of the New York primary on April 19th, which were compounded by Trump’s five-state landslide a week later. Cruz went from contender for the nomination to seeming like an also-ran even though Trump had been expected to win the mid-Atlantic states for weeks. Why should a few losses damage Cruz’s favorability so badly? WaPo’s theory seems plausible: “The numbers suggest that affection for Cruz may have been more tightly tied to his role as Not Trump than his personal qualities.” Trump fans love Trump, Kasich fans like the new, warmer, cuddly John Kasich, but some segment of Cruz fans (many former Rubio voters among them, I’d guess) may have been clinging to him purely as the sole remaining roadblock to Trump. Once Trump broke through the roadblock, those “strategic Cruz fans” walked away and went back to disliking him. Bad omen for tomorrow night.
Two clips here, one of Cruz talking about evil and the other of him dodging questions about whether he’ll back Trump in the general election. Exit question: Is Ted #NeverTrump? If he plans on running for president again, can he afford to be?