Saturday, July 16, 2016

Cruz Steps Into Spotlight for Trump

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is stepping back into the National spotlight at the Republican National Convention, where his rival, Donald Trump, will be crowned the Presidential nominee.

Cruz’s speech will be a pivotal moment for the Republican Party in 2016 and possibly beyond.

The Texas Senator is widely expected to make another run for the White House in 2020 if the GOP loses in 2016. Cruz finished second to Trump in the 2016 race, and his allies in Cleveland are already seeking rule changes in the next Primary that might help him.

“Sen. Cruz’s speech will be viewed by many, if not all, through the lens of him being a potential candidate,” said Charlie Gerow, a GOP Communications Strategist. “I think he chose wisely to go to Cleveland and to showcase his abilities and his views for the party’s future.”

Republicans will also be watching to see if Cruz has some nice things to say about Trump, who invited the Texan to a speaking role in a gesture of Party unity.

Trump has struggled to win over many Republican officeholders, and he got into an altercation with Sen. Jeff Flake (Ariz.) during a visit to the Senate Republican Conference lunch earlier this month. Trump threatened to go after Flake, a frequent critic, and called Sen. Mark Kirk (IL) a “loser.”

While the two have softened their tones in the months since the Primary season, Trump hasn’t publicly apologized for the personal attacks against Cruz’s family.

Many think Cruz’s speech will focus on the need to defeat Hillary Clinton, who is set to be nominated for President by Democrats at their own National Convention. If he does not offer applause for Trump, he will at least set up the election as one of choice between Clinton and the GOP nominee.

And Republicans say that while Cruz isn’t the most popular man in the Senate, he remains a popular figure among respected conservatives.

“A lot of people listen to Cruz. Even if you don’t like him, you can think he’s intellectually honest,” said Ed Rogers, a veteran GOP strategist. Rogers suggested that Cruz will give a rousing description for why Republican voters should stick with their Party in the fall, both to win the White House and to keep the Senate majority.
“He has to maintain his reputation for philosophical integrity. He could do himself good, a lot of good, to see the way forward,” he said.

Asked about his speech this week, the Texas Senator directed questions to his office.

Cruz has shed some light on what he’ll discuss. He said after meeting with Trump in Washington that he would emphasize the Country needs to change direction. “I’m going to urge Americans to get back to the Constitution to change the path we’re on: eight failed years of the Obama-Clinton economy; eight failed years of a presidency disregarding the Constitution and Bill of Rights,” he told reporters. “Eight failed years of a commander in chief not protecting Americans and keeping us safe from radical Islamic terrorism. It’s time for that to end.”

At the same time, Cruz has yet to endorse Trump and has given little indication one is coming. When Trump met with Cruz earlier this month to discuss a speaking role at the convention, Cruz said they did not discuss an endorsement. Cruz at times has indicated that his goal is to thank those who helped his campaign. Earlier this month, he said “We’ve got nearly 600 delegates, and I want to go and say thank you for the hard work all of them put in.”

Cruz is seen as a highly ambitious politician, and one who, at the age of 46, could have plenty of elections in his future. Yet observers say he will want to avoid putting too much emphasis on his own political future at a Convention meant to help this year’s GOP nominee. There are opportunities for Cruz to set himself up for the future, if he can do it the right way.

Ronald Reagan, an idol for Cruz and most aspiring Conservative politicians, spoke at the 1976 Convention after losing in a Primary to then-President Gerald Ford. The speech positioned him as a contender for the Party’s nomination in 1980.

“Cruz has for a long time seen himself as a Reagan-like figure,” said GOP strategist Matt Mackowiak. “There’s no question that Reagan’s speech at the ’76 convention set him on a path to winning … in 1980. So I think there’s a real opportunity that exists for Cruz as well.”

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