Ted Cruz, who conspicuously refrained from endorsing Donald Trump at the Republican National Convention in July, has decided that the Republican nominee, awful as he might be, is still preferable to Hillary Clinton. Here is how the Texas senator explained his long-delayed endorsement on Friday:
After many months of careful consideration, of prayer and searching my own conscience, I have decided that on Election Day, I will vote for the Republican nominee, Donald Trump.
I've made this decision for two reasons. First, last year, I promised to support the Republican nominee. And I intend to keep my word.
Second, even though I have had areas of significant disagreement with our nominee, by any measure Hillary Clinton is wholly unacceptable.
Specifically, Cruz argues that Trump is better than Clinton in six areas: Supreme Court appointments, Obamacare, energy, immigration, national security, and Internet freedom. Yet in an interview on Saturday in Austin, Cruz declined to say whether Trump is "fit to be president." Nor did he retract any part of the critique he offered when he dropped out of the race for the Republican nomination:
I'm going to tell you what I really think of Donald Trump. This man is a pathological liar. He doesn't know the difference between truth and lies. He lies, practically every word that comes out of his mouth. And in a pattern that I think is straight out of a psychology textbook, his response is to accuse everybody else of lying….Whatever he does, he accuses everybody else of doing. The man cannot tell the truth, but he combines it with being a narcissist—a narcissist at a level I don't think this country has ever seen. Donald Trump is such a narcissist that Barack Obama looks at him and says, "Dude, what's your problem?" Everything in Donald's world is about Donald….The man is utterly amoral. Morality does not exist for him….Donald is a bully….Donald is cynically exploiting that anger [at the political establishment], and he is lying to his supporters. Donald will betray his supporters on every issue.
If Trump is "a pathological liar" who "will betray his supporters on every issue," you might wonder, what possible basis does Cruz have to believe that Trump will be better than Clinton (as Cruz sees it) on the six issues he mentions? And that's leaving aside "fidelity to the rule of law," which Cruz says "has never been more important." Surely there is no reason to think Trump, an authoritarian and constitutional ignoramous who openly admires dictators, will be any better than Clinton in that respect. Possibly Cruz recognizes that, which is why he says "if the next administration fails to honor the Constitution and Bill of Rights, then I hope that Republicans and Democrats will stand united in protecting our fundamental liberties."
Cruz is just the latest former Republican presidential candidate to swallow his pride and his principles by endorsing a nominee he was condemning as manifestly unfit for the presidency less than a year before. Here are a few other notable conversions.
Chris Christie then: "You do not need to be banning Muslims from the country….In my view, that's a ridiculous position and one that won't even be productive. [It's] the kind of thing that people say when they have no experience and don't know what they're talking about….Showtime is over. We are not electing an entertainer-in-chief. Showmanship is fun, but it is not the kind of leadership that will truly change America….I just don't think that he's suited to be president of the United States. I don't think his temperament is suited for that and I don't think his experience is."
Chris Christie now: "I am proud to be here to endorse Donald Trump for president of the United States….I'm happy to be on the Trump team, and I look forward to working with him….He's a real talent."
Rick Perry then: "He offers a barking carnival act that can be best described as Trumpism: a toxic mix of demagoguery, mean-spiritedness and nonsense that will lead the Republican Party to perdition if pursued. Let no one be mistaken: Donald Trump's candidacy is a cancer on conservatism, and it must be clearly diagnosed, excised and discarded. It cannot be pacified or ignored, for it will destroy a set of principles that has lifted more people out of poverty than any force in the history of the civilized world—the cause of conservatism."
Rick Perry now: "I believe in the process, and the process has said Donald Trump will be our nominee, and I'm going to support him and help him and do what I can….He is one of the most talented people who has ever run for the president I have ever seen."
Marco Rubio then: "We're on the verge of having someone take over the conservative movement who is a con artist….This boiling point that we have now reached has been fed largely by the fact that we have a frontrunner in my party who has fed into language that basically justifies physically assaulting people who disagree with you….[Trump is] the most vulgar person ever to aspire to the presidency….I believe Donald Trump as our nominee is going to shatter and fracture the Republican Party and the conservative movement."
Marco Rubio now: "Unlike Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump is committed to cut taxes, curb spending, and get our national debt under control. Unlike Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump takes seriously the threats from Islamic radicals and is committed to rebuilding our military. And unlike Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, he is committed to appointing constitutionalist judges who will respect the proper role of the judiciary."