Ted Cruz Just Made the Same Mistake Ted Kennedy Did in 1980

After a long and bitter primary battle, businessman Donald Trump is now officially the Republican nominee for president. Despite promising to support whoever the eventual nominee was, many of his vanquished opponents stayed home instead of attending the GOP’s national convention in Cleveland.

That reaction is not exactly a surprise considering that Trump essentially used an insult comic shtick as one of his prime arguments against his competitors. Given Trump’s constant lying and his continual reversals of his own positions, refusing to endorse him is not exactly dishonorable. Instead of showing up and genuflecting before a man he correctly thinks is unqualified to be president, Jeb Bush decided instead to write an essay for the Washington Post denouncing Trump the week of the RNC. He’s also given several interviews where he repeated his sentiments.

Other vanquished candidates like John Kasich, George Pataki, Lindsey Graham simply stayed home rather than appear at an event for someone whom they clearly thought to be unqualified and unelectable.

Ted Cruz could easily have taken any of these two approaches but instead he decided to take a far riskier one by accepting an invitation to speak at the convention but then pointedly refusing to get anywhere near an endorsement of Trump.

The speech came as a shock to delegates inside Quicken Loans Arena, many of whom vociferously booed Cruz off the stage. Social media lit up with discussion of Cruz’s perfidy with many of Trump’s most ardent conservative critics beside themselves with joy praising Cruz’s move as savvy and gutsy, sure to redound to his benefit later.

That’s almost certainly incorrect.

Like so many other political miscalculations that Cruz has made over the years, this one grossly overestimates the number of hardcore conservative activists within the Republican Party. Throughout the campaign, despite his best efforts to peel away Trump’s supporters, Cruz was unable to put any real distance between himself and Florida senator Marco Rubio in the polling.

Only after Rubio, Bush and other also-rans began dropping out did Cruz’s numbers begin to rise. But Trump’s rose as well. In the end, Cruz couldn’t even get to 33 percent support in the RealClearPolitics polling average.

Hoping to get ahead of what is widely expected to be a significant Trump loss, the Texas senator seems to have decided to position himself as the best Republican to challenge a president Hillary Clinton in 2020 by refusing to taint himself with a Trump endorsement.

While the move made the small Never Trump contingent swoon with delight, it was regarded by grassroots Republicans (including many former Cruz voters) as a shocking betrayal of the party and its voters. No one reading the largest conservative online communities such as Free Republic, Lucianne.com, or WND could think otherwise. Here are just a few comments that are very typical:

Kyle on WND: “I am from Texas and Ted disgraced our State tonight. I once liked his Constitutional stances, but what he did tonight was wrong on so many levels. I didn’t think that he would prove Trump right, but he did. Lyin’ Ted, that nickname will be very hard to shake, as it should be.”

Arkfreepdom at Free Republic: “He is a liar. He didn’t honor his pledge. He also was given a spot at the convention. Something trump didn’t have to do. Cruz is a punk. And I supported him. That was dumb of me!”

Dr. Sivana at Free Republic: “I supported Cruz to the end, but he gave the wrong speech tonight.”

Padre at Newsmax. “Ted had an opportunity to be a big man, but he proved himself to be a small man. Trump invited him into his house and he took a dump on the carpet.”

While Cruz’s refusal to endorse Trump came as a sudden outrage to grassroots Republicans, it did not come as a surprise to people working for the GOP nominee. Trump himself stated on Twitter that “I saw his speech two hours early but let him speak anyway. No big deal!” His televised entrance into the convention hall before Cruz had finished speaking also confirms this. Cruz staffers have said that their boss informed Trump two days ago that he would not endorse at the convention.

Trump knew what was coming and he clearly wanted it to. Who knows what effect it will have on the voting in November but it will guarantee even higher ratings for Trump’s speech tomorrow night. Judging from the reaction of Republican voters, it’s also finished the career of Ted Cruz. Spend a few hours on Twitter and elsewhere and you’ll see hundreds of people claiming they’ll never support Cruz for anything again.

Chris Christie, infamous among Republicans for hugging Obama in 2012, can attest that Republicans are just like elephants—they never forget. Big-ticket GOP donor Sheldon Adelson looks like he won’t either.

Cruz thinks of himself as the second coming of Ronald Reagan but in truth, he’s probably more like Ted Kennedy.

It’s mostly forgotten nowadays but in 1980 Kennedy fought to the bitter end against President Jimmy Carter for the Democratic nomination but ultimately came up well short of victory.

There are so many similarities between the two men’s races. Both were senators who carried their cause to the party convention, each trying to force “conscience clauses” to allow delegates to avoid casting their ballots according to primary results. (Kennedy at least had the decency to make this campaign openly whereas Cruz and his supporters have said they’re only anti-Trump.)

Just like Cruz, Kennedy gave an impassioned speech about the values he had campaigned on. Just like today, his ideological co-partisans thrilled to the speech. Both senators also pointedly refused to endorse the victorious candidate as well.

While Kennedy eventually came to be regarded highly by his own party, his petty behavior in 1980 made it so that he never was regarded as a serious contender for the presidency ever again. Many party elders blamed his dead-ender campaign for the Reagan victory even if they agreed with his policy stances.

As harmful as Kennedy’s behavior following his bitter loss was to his career, he at least urged fellow Democrats to “reunite on the basis of Democratic principles, and […] march towards a Democratic victory in 1980.”

Ted Cruz couldn’t even do that.

Donald Trump will certainly become less popular after he loses to Hillary Clinton. But Ted Cruz will be more unpopular still. His self-serving attempt to paper over months of refusing to criticize Trump when it actually would have mattered will be the moment that defines his career.

Ted Cruz thought that by lighting himself on fire he could burn Donald Trump. Instead, he’s just blown himself up.

For once, Jeb Bush actually had better political instincts than someone else.

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  1. 1

    How about he gave a decent speech up until the last two minutes, then he opened his coat and revealed a suicide vest. He commenced to detonate it in front of millions. Bye bye, Raphael.

  2. 2

    The more people see of Ted Cruz, the less they like him.

    Trump gave Cruz the rope to hang himself with and Ted took it gleefully.

    • 3

      But… why?

      Why is Trump giving rope to fellow Republicans so they can hang themselves? What’s the point of this? He won the nomination. His job is to consolidate the party behind him, not to ensure that the people who lost to him are humiliated further.

      That’s idiotic. So either your analysis is wrong, or Trump is an idiot. Your choice.

  3. 5

    Saw a video of Cruz in another article where he stated the reason he didn’t endorse Trump. He said, “I stood on the stage and enthusiastically raised my hand to support the eventual nominee….which I fully intend to do. But I abdicated my pledge of endorsement….and it’s personal. I am not in the habit of endorsing anyone that speaks against my wife and father.”

    Wellllll …… hold on now……….It was the Cruz camp that started circulating the photos of Melania Trump……first….., with the caption “Do you want this as your First Lady?” underneath them. Did he not expect retaliation???? Of course, Cruz “apologized” for the actions of a staffer….kind of…..but the damage was already done, and he KNEW it. And later……he admitted that he knew it was going to happen……

    At this point, he is as much a liar as the other camp……no longer trustworthy….and if he can find the money to run in 2020, will NOT get my vote.

    • 6

      Sorry, but it’s been proven that Cruz had NOTHING to do with the Melania photo – a photo that, by the way, was in fact shot on Trump’s plane, with his express wishes for it to be spread as widely as possible because the thought it would enhance his credibility as a presidential candidate when he ran a number of years ago. A photo that was in fact published in the high subscription magazine GQ (Gentleman’s Quarterly – no idea what it’s subscription is like now, but it was a popular mag at the time). So Trump having a cow over it now is grossly hypocritical, not to mention that he repeated lied that Cruz was behind it.

      Oh, and contrary to your claim, Cruz NEVER “apologized” for the Melania photo nor did any of his staff – from the beginning they all said very clearly that they had nothing to do with it and that it was reprehensible to go after a candidate’s wife that way. But Trump lied about it countless times, and blamed Cruz when he didn’t have a thing to do with it – and then attacked Cruz’s wife! Talk about reprehensible and lying!

      What’s more, Cruz spoke in FAVOR of a number of Trump’s policies during his speech, and said “vote your conscience.” But apparently all of you who are upset about this miss the fact that you are advocating that people NOT vote according to their own values and morals, but instead tow the party line REGARDLESS of the behavior of the candidate. That is, that they should support the PARTY regardless of what the party chooses to do – talk about advocating absurd political correctness! The very thing Trump CLAIMS he’s so against, as do so many of his supports (and Cruz’s). Would YOU endorse someone who slanders your spouse nationally? Who blatantly lies that one of your parents was involved in the JFK assassination? Who lies countless times about how you are supposedly lying, when you’re telling the truth, and proclaims nationally that you’re the biggest liar in the world? And yet you expect Cruz to endorse the man anyhow? Please. Get a spine – Cruz was exactly right. He gave a very good speech to foster party unity to the largest extent possible under the circumstances, and said NOTHING remotely negative about Trump in the speech.

      Cruz gives an excellent response to the issue – it’s a must watch brief video down at the bottom of the article: Cruz tells Texas delegates: I won’t be a “servile puppy dog” to a man who attacked my wife and father

  4. 7

    Ted Cruz revealed himself to be a snake when he published Dr. Carson’s withdrawal from the race.

    Ted Cruz proved himself to be a snake when he falsely published Dr. Carson’s withdrawal from the race. I almost thought that he had redeemed himself when he pledged to support the nominee. However he did nothing but to prove himself to be a snake. I will never cast my vote for a snake, not for Clinton (a snake that we know) and most certainly not for Cruz!

    Ted Cruz proved himself to be a snake when he falsely published Dr. Carson’s withdrawal from the race. When he pledged to support the nominee I almost believed that he had redeemed himself. However, with his speech at the convention he reinforced the fact that he is a snake. I will never vote for a snake whether it be Clinton (a snake that we know) and most certainly not Cruz.

    • 8

      Cruz never “falsely published Dr. Carson’s withdrawal.” His STAFF notified their workers of a major announcement by CNN direct from Carson’s own top level staffers – one that was not only discussed on air by three of CNN’s top anchors, but also put on CNN’s primary twitter feed which goes to over 21 million people. The Cruz staffers passed it along essentially verbatim. That was their jobs, and they would have been grossly negligent to not pass the information along to their precinct workers.

      What’s more, TRUMP was the first to violate the pledge – and Trump doing so released the others from the agreement, Trump broke the contract, not Cruz. Not to mention that the pledge certainly wasn’t carte blanch regardless of what the candidate did later – I mean, come on, if for example, Trump shot an innocent person on 5th Avenue (Trump’s words), would you STILL expect the other candidates to support him? Would YOU still support him? Trump went WAY out of bounds in going personal and attacking Cruz’s wife and father, not to mention lying constantly about Cruz himself, and turned out to be nothing more than a massive demagogue who hasn’t got a clue about our Constitution, the Supreme Court, or much of any other major policy issue. Yet you have a problem with Cruz saying to people essentially that Hillary is a horrible candidate, so vote your conscience? And don’t stay home, vote the entire down ticket too so we keep a majority in the House and Senate? And you’ve got a PROBLEM with that? Sheesh.

  5. 9
  6. 10

    This part says so much about the moral values of so many Democrats:

    “While Kennedy eventually came to be regarded highly by his own party”

    The man left the scene of an accident where a woman eventually died, then went home and contacted the police the NEXT day.

    A Republican would have been charged with a crime and resigned in disgrace.

  7. 11

    Donald Trump is going to win. Just look at all those he’s vanquished so far. Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush are a smoldering ruins. Hillary is a flawed candidate and a criminal and Trump is going to have a field day filleting her. The Democrats have finally met their match.

  8. 12

    I thought Kennedy ruined his chances of ever becoming president when he drown his girlfriend over an inconvenient pregnancy, but the author may be right, democrats do not find any kind of immorality disqualifying not even murder as shown by hillary with benghazi and 50 million other dead babies since Roe vs Wade.

  9. 13

    Although Trump is not widely considered a Christian, in this debate he manifested more Christianity than evangelist Cruz. Trump trusted his political brother and invited him to share the RNC stage with him. Cruz needs to forgive Trump for angry words spoken in the heat of the campaign, even though they were personal, and heal the wounds at the fraternal level and at then the national (Rep party) level. Forgive, love and unite!

  10. 14

    Ted, “I knew Ronald Reagan and you are no Ronald Reagan.” May be old, but still applies!

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