Pledge … fulfilled? Despite an eruption of personal attacks between Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, and despite Cruz’ traditional distaste for the GOP establishment, a source tells the Washington Post’s Philip Rucker that the two are meeting to discuss an endorsement deal. GOP chair Reince Priebus is on hand, and it’s taking place at one of the most establishment of all GOP locations — the National Republican Senatorial Committee headquarters, a place that conservative activists love to loathe:
Donald Trump and Reince Priebus are meeting with Ted Cruz right now at NRSC HQ, possible endorsement deal, per source.
— Philip Rucker (@PhilipRucker) July 7, 2016
CNN confirms the meeting is taking place, but not its content:
Donald Trump is meeting Thursday with former rival Sen. Ted Cruz and Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus inside the National Republican Senatorial Committee building in Washington, a source told CNN.
Well, what else would they be discussing? The convention starts in eleven days, and Ted Cruz controls the largest bloc of non-Trump delegates attending. The #NeverTrump efforts to unbind delegates on the first vote may or may not be a serious threat to Trump’s nomination, but if it is, then having Cruz outside the fold would at least provide those activists with a rally point.
Obviously it’s in Trump’s best interests to cajole Cruz into honoring his pledge and offering at least some public support for Trump’s candidacy. But why would an endorsement be in Cruz’ interest? Thanks to Trump’s position with pledged delegates, he’s got the party “establishment” behind him — the same establishment against which Cruz has tilted for the past four years. His supporters have been vocally opposed to a rapprochement, and have urged Cruz to remain independent of Trump, if for no other reason than to stay distant from a crushing loss, should it occur. On top of all that, Trump’s the man who accused his father of having some role in the assassination of JFK.
On the other hand, it’s no secret that Cruz wants another shot at the presidency in 2020. He learned the hard way that one has to at least attempt to work with other Republicans in order to keep them from actively thwarting your political ambitions. Besides, prior to Trump’s attack on Rafael Cruz, the Senator was Trump’s friendliest competition — repeatedly praising Trump and cheering on his attacks on the establishment.
It’s no small irony for both men that this meeting is taking place where and with whom it is. Cruz had better come away from this meeting with some solid concessions if he wants to maintain his anti-establishment cred — and a public apology from Trump if he wants to keep his honor.