In the immediate aftermath of Ted Cruz’s speech at the Republican National Convention, Donald Trump tweeted that he’d known that Cruz would not endorse him and called it “no big deal.” Two days later, after some pointed remarks from Cruz, Trump is now accusing the Texas senator of pulling a fast one.
“I knew his speech, I saw exactly what his speech was because when you go up to speak, you have to give your speech, you know? We don’t want surprises, right? So they gave it,” Trump said Friday. “They came to me and said it’s a boring speech, Mr. Trump.”
However, Trump said, Cruz then “made a statement that wasn’t on the speech and then went back to his speech.”
Trump did not explain which parts of the speech were ad-libbed. And the crux of the problem with Cruz’s speech didn’t really lie in anything he said, anyway; it was that he failed to endorse Trump. Perhaps the “vote your conscience” line was a step too far, clearly a reference to the pre-convention activism focused on unbinding delegates. But even without that line, Cruz’s endorsement silence – a silence that was presumably in the reviewed speech – was the big news of the night.
Trump said Friday that even if Cruz were to change his mind, the billionaire was no longer interested in his support.
“He’ll come and endorse over the next little while, because he has no choice,” Trump predicted. “I don’t want his endorsement. What difference does it make? I don’t want his endorsement. Ted, stay home, relax, enjoy yourself.”
Cruz couldn’t have thought his move would go over well. If anything, his speech served as a rallying point for many hesitant conservatives who still aren’t sure what to make of the Republican nominee. Many of those conservatives, given a choice, would have much rather seen the nomination go to Cruz. But they recognize the reality – the reality that we’re not choosing between Trump and Cruz, we’re choosing between Trump and Hillary Clinton. And Cruz’s betrayal only highlighted the fact that the primaries are over. Done. In the bag.
Cruz knows all of that. He’s hoping to play the villain now and return as the hero when the GOP is trying to rebuild after Trump loses. If Trump does lose, Cruz’s wager might pay off. On the other hand, Republican voters might not be so quick to forgive a man who bet against the party.