Erica Grieder spells it out at Texas Monthly: Sen. Ted Cruz completely caved in Friday to Reince Priebus's threats and to Donald Trump's ego and endorsed an orange Cheeto for president, and it's going to cost him any future political aspirations he might have had.
First, both of the reasons Cruz gave for his decision, in a statement he posted on Facebook Friday afternoon—that he signed a pledge and that Hillary Clinton is unacceptable—are demonstrably ridiculous. Even if you agree that Clinton is more “unacceptable” than Trump, and that a pledge made to the Republican National Committee should take precedence over one’s oath of office and one’s repeated promises to work for the 27 million people of Texas, it remains the case that Cruz signed the pledge last year and could have known, months ago, that Clinton would be the Democratic nominee. If those are his real reasons for endorsing Trump, in other words, he would have done so at the Republican National Convention, in July. In fact, he would have done so in May, at the Republican Party of Texas convention instead of refusing to do so in our interview.
His answer effectively precluded him from endorsing either Clinton or Trump; I noted that at the time, and he didn’t disagree. Beyond that, multiple sources close to Cruz confirmed to me, last week, that he was considering an endorsement. Every single one of them cited external pressure. There was some disagreement about the source of the pressure, but none of them had changed their minds about Trump, and none of them suggested that Cruz had done so. In other words, Cruz’s assessment of Trump’s merits relative to Clinton’s hasn’t changed; what’s changed is his assessment of the relative risks of refusing to endorse Trump.
That being the case, it should be easy to see why this is a mistake Cruz can’t afford to make. To be clear, that’s an analytical comment, not a normative one. I would guess that his endorsement of Trump is an example of Cruz Rule Five (“he’s too smart for his own good”), and—for what it’s worth—I’m not entirely unsympathetic to him. I remember, from our conversation in May, how genuinely distressed he seemed at the realization that Trump would be the Republican nominee. I believe he was sincerely convinced that a Trump presidency would put the country, and the Constitution, in real peril. And I suspect that Cruz, in the privacy of the voting booth, may not tick the box for Trump in November.
At the same time, I’m aware that even before today’s news, it was tricky to persuade anyone to consider giving Cruz the benefit of the doubt about anything—and after today, it will be impossible. Either his endorsement is a pack of lies, or his speech at the RNC was: they can’t both be true. And though it’s possible that “Lyin’ Ted” might still one day become president, the odds, in my view, are now vanishingly narrow. We’ve all heard it a million times: “Everyone hates Ted Cruz.” And now he’s given this faceless “everyone” plenty of reason to do so.
So we'll see how Cruz fares in 2018 when he's up for re-election. Something tells me in a scenario where Clinton is in the White House that he can probably get enough Republican votes to survive a primary challenge and keep his seat (because let's face it, seething hatred of Democratic presidents is really all that matters to the GOP) but anything beyond that is a big, huge question mark.
And it's worth noting that the one guy in the 2016 GOP clown car primary that had worse general election vs. Clinton and overall favorable numbers than Trump was...Ted Cruz.
We'll see what happens next week as Cruz still keeps giving hints about a government shutdown.