Cruz told delegates and voters to "vote your conscience" in November and never specifically said that people should cast their ballots for the Republican nominee....Boos. Chaos. Heidi Cruz needing a security excort as she left the hall, to angry cries of "Goldman Sachs!" It was fun.
"To those listening, please, don’t stay home in November. If you love our country, and love your children as much as I know you do, stand, and speak, and vote your conscience, vote for candidates up and down the ticket who you trust to defend our freedom and to be faithful to the Constitution," Cruz said.
But will it matter? The overwhelming majority of Republicans already say they're going to vote Trump -- he and Hillary Clinton have consolidated their party bases to approximately the same extent. Yes, there are GOP holdouts -- but is there anyone who would have voted Trump and now plans not to, emboldened by the Cruz speech? Does anyone actually like Ted Cruz that much?
I know he won a lot of votes in the primaries -- but he doesn't command personal loyalty the way Trump does. He just embodies a set of ideas many Republicans hold dear, after hearing them articulated every day for years on Fox and talk radio and religious-right broadcasts. It's not about him. How many divisions does Ted Cruz have? Who sees him as a leader?
If anything, we're hearing that Hillary Clinton thinks she can peel off some moderate Republicans. How many right-centrist Republican women in the Philadelphia suburbs are going to rally to the words of culture warrior Ted Cruz?
Beyond that, last night was about party loyalty, or the lack thereof -- and the thing about most of the voters who haven't mind up their minds yet in this election is that they have no party loyalty, by definition. They're swing voters. They don't care about parties. They don't particularly like the parties. Last night's Great Betrayal is irrelevant to their concerns as voters.
So I think Cruzghazi will be completely irrelevant to the outcome in November. But it was a hoot, and it does give the press an opportunity to describe the Trump campaign as chaotic and disorganized. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to matter to undecided voters either. It's just inside baseball. It should matter, because it speaks to what Trump says would be his main strength as a president:
They should've never let Cruz on stage without getting it in writing.— Petey RobLowe (@jteeDC) July 21, 2016
Art of the deal my ass. https://t.co/XyfsefugHR
Not only did Trump allow this debacle to happen, he's so disorganized that he can't even manage the post-debacle spin. Josh Marshall is certain Trump was blindsided:
The first thing to say about this is that there is simply no way Trump's and Priebus's convention managers okayed that speech. No way. The fact that they allowed him on stage to give that speech will go down as one of the greatest organizational pratfalls in convention history. Whether Cruz got them to agree not to review the speech or whether he substituted another speech, I don't know. But something very wrong went down there.But The Washington Post says Trump knew the endorsement wasn't coming, although the speech was a mystery:
Cruz had told Trump on Monday that he was not going to endorse him, chief Cruz strategist Jason Johnson said.However, The New York Times says the Trump team did read the speech and allowed Cruz to go on anyway, because Trump thought it might be changed at the eleventh hour:
However, the senator from Texas did not share the text of his speech in advance of its delivery with the Trump campaign or Republican officials, according to a senior convention official familiar with the program. Text of the address was delivered to party officials shortly before its delivery.
Mr. Trump had invited Mr. Cruz to speak even though he had doubts that peace was possible after their brutal race....Whereas Donald Trump Jr. says that the Trump team did get the speech in advance and knew an endorsement wasn't going to happen, even at the last minute, but Cruz was allowed to speak because Donald Sr. is such a swell guy:
Mr. Trump called Mr. Cruz on Monday and asked for his endorsement, according to a senior aide to Mr. Cruz who requested anonymity to relay private conversations. Mr. Cruz indicated to Mr. Trump that he would not offer an endorsement, the aide said.
Trump advisers said on Wednesday night that Mr. Trump had been unhappy with the text of Mr. Cruz’s speech but held out for the remote possibility that Mr. Cruz would make a last-minute endorsement.
The Manhattan billionaire’s son told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that the Trump campaign saw Cruz’s speech ahead of time and knew what the Texas senator would say. The GOP nominee allowed Cruz to speak, Trump Jr. said, in the interest of party unity, even though he knew the remarks would be far from an endorsement.Get your story straight! Idiots.
“We knew [an endorsement] wasn't coming. My father wanted all the guys who wanted to be there, he wanted to give them a platform,” Trump Jr. said. “I think he wants to show that he’s about unity, so he knew that was happening and he was a better man about it.”
Trump incompetence ought to be a bigger issue in this race, but at least 40% of voters are so dazzled by Trump's wealth and gilt and buildings and golf courses and wives that they just can't conceive of Trump as a bumbler. That's something the Clinton campaign has to work on. But it's an uphill fight.
Meanwhile, what does this do to Ted Cruz? It's obvious that he thinks Trump will lose this year. It's obvious that he's positioning himself for 2020. But does this really help him win the next nomination? In the following exchange, I think Josh Barro has a point:
@LizMair if trump loses by 12, this might work. if he loses by 4, Cruz will be pilloried for not "helping him over the top."— Josh Barro (@jbarro) July 21, 2016
And I think, after all this bumbling, Trump will lose by 2, because there's so much anti-Hillary animosity out there, and because the GOP has, if anything, strengthened its Team White People brand in the Obama years, winning lots of non-presidential victories in the Midwest the way it's won them in the South in recent decades. If it's a narrow loss for Trump, Republicans are going to look for scapegoats -- they'll blame the media and "voter fraud" and probably George Soros and Saul Alinsky -- but they'll also blame Cruz. So I don't see how this helps him. I think the next GOP nominee will be either Tom Cotton or Donald Trump Jr.