Cruz's campaign manager: He's impressed with Trump's new discipline and thinks about endorsing every day

A Twitter pal reminds me of this prediction from late July:

Looks like I’ll get close to the target but maybe not a direct hit. The endorsement might come sooner, and given the tone of Jeff Roe’s comments here, it might be more enthusiastic than just a press release:

It always seemed likely Cruz would sit it out if Trump were down big in polls, tweeted John McCormack of the Weekly Standard, and back Trump if it ended up close. Right. A non-endorsement at the convention could always be undone later, sort of, by having Cruz back Trump in the final weeks before Election Day if need be. But an early endorsement couldn’t be undone. If Cruz climbed aboard the Trump train in Cleveland, he’d be along for the ride no matter which crazy places that train might go. So he took the more prudent route — wait and see — but didn’t expect the backlash he ended up receiving for his “vote your conscience” pitch. He’s probably been looking to catch the train ever since. And now that Trump has mellowed out a little and stands a real chance of winning, Cruz might feel safer in endorsing after all. If nothing else, it’ll ease some of the atomic butthurt among his donors and political allies and lower the odds of a Senate primary challenge in two years.

That’s one theory, that Cruz really is “softening,” to borrow a phrase from Trump. The other theory is that Cruz actually hasn’t said a word to Roe about backing Trump and Roe is trying to use public pressure to get him to reconsider, for whatever reason. Maybe Roe himself has swung around to an “anyone but Hillary” position or maybe Roe is being a very clear-eyed pragmatist about the political trouble that holding out is causing Cruz. Remember this NRO piece from last month? According to Eliana Johnson and Tim Alberta, Roe wanted Cruz to say clearly in his convention speech that he’d be voting for Trump in the fall:

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.

Now, two months later, here’s Roe nudging Cruz again, this time in front of an audience, to change his mind. Erica Grieder, who’s been covering Cruz for years for Texas Monthly and would have some insight into the internal politics of Team Cruz, thinks this is in fact a case of Roe trying to muscle his candidate:

Steve Deace, who knows Cruz and campaigned for him in Iowa, also sees a play being made here by Roe:

Bottom line: If Cruz did reluctantly endorse Trump, would it help him? Most reaction, I think, would run along these lines, with Trumpers contemptuous of Cruz for his fair-weather friendship and Cruzers bitter that the Man Of Principle™ was evidently too scared of a tough primary to stand firm on “conscience.” Donors might like it, though, as a better-late-than-never gesture, at least to the point where they’re unwilling to spend millions to bankroll a challenger. I think he’ll cave. But then, I’ve always thought he would.

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David Strom 8:41 PM on January 30, 2023