Angry Republicans said Thursday that Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s prime-time non-endorsement of Donald Trump was political suicide, a broken promise, sour grapes and a calculated stunt for his political reprise after he sinks Trump’s chances in November.
“I think it’s real simple: Mr. Cruz broke his word,” said Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor in a newfound role as GOP attack dog for Trump. Giuliani focused on the pledge all primary candidates made to endorse the eventual nominee.
“I was taught a long time ago . . . that your word is your bond in politics,” Giuliani told reporters Thursday. “So I guess in Ted Cruz’s case, his word is worthless.”
“He’s a dead man walking,” Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) told Newsday. “As far as I’m concerned, he’s finished. He finished himself. He’s a terrible human being. He proved it last night to the country. A lot of us knew privately. Now the whole world knows.”
“Donald Trump gave Ted Cruz a prime-time spot,” said New York Republican chairman Ed Cox about Cruz’s unexpected refusal to endorse Trump at Wednesday night’s session of the Republican National Convention. Cruz “chose non-endorsement, which is political suicide . . . he does not have the judgment to be president.”
During Wednesday night’s speech by Cruz, the New York delegation led chants of “Endorse Trump!” and “Keep your pledge!”
Backstage, Cox was with Trump. Cox said Trump showed no anger at Cruz, but a strong confident demeanor. Cox said Trump’s decision to allow Cruz to speak without a commitment for an endorsement was “brilliant” because Cruz now looks like a sore loser and Trump looks magnanimous.
Cox and Giuliani said Cruz made the mortal political sin made by Nelson Rockefeller when he publicly disrespected presidential candidate Barry Goldwater. As with Cruz Wednesday, Rockefeller’s criticism of Goldwater in the 1964 Republican convention in San Francisco was drowned out in boos, dashing Rockefeller’s dream of becoming president.
During the primaries, Trump called Cruz “Lyin’ Ted.” In turn, Cruz had called Trump a pathological liar lacking morality.
Cruz, addressing supporters Thursday in Cleveland, said he had no obligation to be a “servile puppy” and support someone who insulted his wife and associated his father with President John F. Kennedy’s assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, according to The Associated Press.
While many party leaders insisted Cruz’s action won’t hurt Trump or the party while destroying Cruz’s aspirations to be the GOP nominee for president ever again, not all agreed.
“He still has time to reconsider,” said Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, the past and possibly future GOP nominee for governor. “If he endorses before Election Day, it kind of cleans this away. Whether this is face painting or a tattoo remains to be seen.”
“If Trump loses, Cruz could have a second life,” Astorino said in an interview.
“Six months is a lifetime in politics,” said national Republican strategist Kevin Madden, who was a top adviser to GOP nominee Mitt Romney four years ago. “It’s hard to say with any certainty what the long-term effect is for Cruz.”
As for the party whose top goal this week was to project unity behind Trump, Republican delegates tried to assert that Cruz’s speech wouldn’t hurt them.
“Senator Cruz’s speech will have very little impact on the election or the GOP,” said national Republican strategist Susan Del Percio. “If Donald Trump wins in November, Cruz’s speech at the convention be deemed ‘political suicide.’ If Donald Trump loses, it will be referred to as is announcement speech for 2020.”