Cruz, in Reversal, Issues Endorsement of Trump for President
In a dramatic reversal from his controversial non-endorsement at the Republican convention in July, Texas Senator Ted Cruz firmly backed Donald Trump's bid for the White House on Friday.
"A year ago, I pledged to endorse the Republican nominee, and I am honoring that commitment. And if you don’t want to see a Hillary Clinton presidency, I encourage you to vote for him," he said in a message posted to Facebook.
In response, Trump put out a warm statement saying he was "greatly honored by the endorsement" by "a tough and brilliant opponent."
The issue has weighed heavily on Cruz, 45, who faces re-election to the Senate in 2018 and has kept the door open to running for president again. Gallup tracking surveys found that Cruz's net favorable rating among Republicans fell by a jarring 35 percentage points in the weeks after the convention, dipping into negative territory.
Cruz's show of support came days after Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus suggested he may block Republicans who don't back Trump from running for the party's nomination again. It also followed news of Heidi Cruz, his wife, rejoining Goldman Sachs in the Houston office. She took an unpaid leave last year to aid her husband's campaign.
Cruz listed several reasons for reversing his stance on Trump, most importantly citing the future shape of the Supreme Court. Earlier Friday, Trump released an expanded list of potential justices he would consider naming to the high court, including Cruz's best friend in the Senate, Republican Mike Lee of Utah.
Cruz noted that Trump said he would only consider filling court openings with names on his list and said that commitment "provides a serious reason for voters to choose to support Trump."
The Texas Republican also listed Obamacare, energy and internet freedom as other areas where Trump was preferable to Clinton.
"Donald Trump is the only thing standing in her way," he wrote.
The clash between Cruz and Trump became deeply personal. In January, Trump fired the first shot by suggesting Cruz's birth in Canada could keep him from the presidency. Trump went on to brand him "Lyin' Ted," re-tweeted an unflattering photo of his wife and floated an evidence-free conspiracy theory that his father was involved in the John F. Kennedy assassination.
Cruz called Trump a "sniveling coward" for going after his wife and, shortly before his loss in the Indiana primary compelled him to drop out, unleashed a fiery rant declaring Trump a "pathological liar," a "narcissist" and a "serial philanderer."
After Cruz's non-endorsement speech, the Texan said he refused to be a "servile puppy dog" and support the man who insulted his wife. Trump said he wouldn't accept it anyway.
"If he gives it, I will not accept it," Trump told reporters at the convention. "I don't want his endorsement," he added. "Just, Ted, stay home, relax, enjoy yourself."
—With assistance from Kevin Cirilli.