Anti-Trump unity has its price, my friends.
Serious question: Why does Cruz want or need endorsements from congressional Republicans, including the leadership of his own caucus? How would it benefit him on balance, rather than cost him, to have Mitch McConnell suddenly (and reluctantly) pro-Cruz? He’s doing just fine right now as the sole remaining Not Trump standing. I can see how a few well-placed endorsements from Marco Rubio and Tim Scott, etc, might help, but any perception that Cruz is selling out to the establishment to boost his chances of winning will hand Trump a populist bludgeon against him. Just doesn’t add up.
Directly and through surrogates, the Texas senator is aggressively reaching out to his Senate colleagues as he prepares for the possibility of a convention floor fight against Donald Trump. And Cruz’s emissaries on Capitol Hill are now signaling to senior Republicans that Cruz would be willing to work with them as the GOP nominee in a way Trump would not.…
“We’re in a situation where we’re trying to galvanize Republicans behind us,” Cruz communications director Alice Stewart said Tuesday. She declined to say whether Cruz still considered Senate leadership to be part of the “Washington cartel,” but insisted that engaging fellow senators wouldn’t compromise his conservative record…
Cruz “wants people to think he’s got his establishment support. But he’s not doing anything on his own,” said one top GOP operative on Capitol Hill.
He briefly considered a trip to Washington in March to speak with colleagues before deciding against it. Lee said that he believes Cruz will soon return to the Capitol to lay out the stakes to his colleagues.
I don’t understand the “Cruz will be more willing to work with you than Trump will” pitch either. Of course that’s true on core conservative matters. If McConnell somehow gets a new bill restricting abortion through the Senate, he’s more likely to have that bill signed into law if Cruz rather than Trump is president. “I’ll work with you” is not a good all-purpose message, though, for a guy who earned his populist stripes on the right by denouncing “go along to get along” attitudes in his own caucus. It’s unnecessary too, as Cruz’s best selling point with colleagues has nothing to do with whether he’ll work with them or not. His selling point is that Trump’s favorable ratings in various national polls portend an unholy beating for Republicans this fall and a near-certain loss of the Senate majority. Cruz would be an underdog against Hillary but he won’t do anything nutty on the trail that’ll be hung around the necks of Republicans down-ballot. GOP candidates could run straightforward races, and may even benefit from Team Cruz’s superior data analytics. “Support me,” Cruz could tell them, “and you’ll at least have a chance of keeping your jobs.” Although he doesn’t even need to say that. All he has to do is keep running against the “Washington cartel” and all his Republican colleagues have to do is keep their mouths shut and everything should work out.
Meanwhile, why is Team Trump attacking Cruz as a “Trojan horse” for the establishment rather than as a secret establishmentarian himself in light of this report? The “Trojan horse” attack suggests that Cruz is a dupe, someone whom the GOP’s powers-that-be support purely in the interest of ensuring a brokered convention at which point they’ll toss Cruz aside and hand the nomination to a favorite son like Paul Ryan. That’s pure fantasy, though: The percentage of delegates at the convention who are chosen by voters or by the candidates themselves, rather than by the RNC or state/local GOP committees, exceeds 80 percent per Nate Silver. It’s also a lame attack on Cruz given the alternative. What Trump should be saying is that Cruz is an insider wolf in outsider sheep’s clothing, a guy who’s abandoning his populist principles right this very second because he’s power hungry. He’s not a Trojan horse for the establishment, he is the establishment. They could even borrow Ross Douthat’s critique of Cruz from a few weeks ago: “Basically, he spent years trying to make it in Washington on the insider’s track, and hit a wall because too many of the insiders didn’t like him.” He’s an “outsider” because he’s an opportunist and saw that as his lone remaining path to advance his career. Instead, watch Trump spokesman Katrina Pierson repeat the Trojan-horse claim, even saying at one point of the dreaded establishment, “Their loyalty is not with Senator Cruz.” Why on earth would you give Cruz that benefit of the doubt if you’re trying to take him down? Can’t anybody here play this game?