Live at 7:30 ET: Trump rallies for "Beautiful Ted" in Texas

I’m not sure I’m ready for the new direction this bromance seems to be taking.

Beauty has its limits, though:

The rally was initially scheduled for an 8,000-seat arena but demand forced it to be moved to one that seats 19,000. The number who applied for tickets was … 77,000. That’s one reason to watch tonight: Trump is on very friendly turf, which makes him even more likely to say anything than he normally is.

The other reason is to see how he and Cruz grapple with the fact that the latter is on a glide path to reelection, making this rally at a minimum unnecessary and at worst a minor risk to Cruz’s campaign. A cautious, clculating politician like “Lyin’ Ted” — sorry, “Beautiful Ted” — probably would have preferred to skip this event. Granted, Trump’s visit might encourage a few populist stragglers to vote next month but it’s also tantamount to waving a red cape in front of Trump-hating liberals. Cruz has led by seven points or so in nearly every poll recently with Trump out of state and out of mind. Bringing him to Texas introduces a variable of uncertainty into the equation. But Cruz had no choice: Remember that Trump announced this rally in August, when the race was tighter and everyone was momentarily unsure if Cruz would have the Republican enthusiasm he needs to hold off Betomania. It turns out that he probably does have it and doesn’t need more. But the president’s not going to cancel a chance to plant his flag in Cruz’s backyard. And Cruz wouldn’t dare ask him to, fearing how Trumpers might respond.

So the rally is on, and worth watching if only for Trump’s inevitable riff on Cruz’s opponent, the left’s newest political heartthrob. Beto himself has shied away lately from negative campaigning after indulging in a few “Lyin’ Ted” jabs himself, which is interesting to me as a strategic matter. He won’t lose a single vote among his supporters for mocking Cruz but going negative would make it a bit harder for him to run for president in 2020 as the candidate of, uh, hope and change. So he’s dropped the “Lyin’ Ted” stuff, even though doing so might marginally reduce his chances of winning next month’s election. Meanwhile, the odds that Trump himself will face O’Rourke in his next election are small but they’re not zero. If you polled the media today as to whom they’d most like to see as Democratic nominee, where would Beto finish? Top five? Top three?

The rally should be livestreamed in the video window below but if not then CSPAN will have you covered. I’m curious to see how often Trump and Cruz are onstage together. Calculatin’ Ted will want to minimize those opportunities, I’d guess, just in case Trump says something off the wall and O’Rourke’s team gets an ad out of it.

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