Ted Cruz’s relationship with Donald Trump has been interesting to watch in recent years.
You will remember — and if not, I will remind you — that during the 2016 presidential campaign, Cruz was one of Trump’s most outspoken critics. He called Trump a “crybaby coward,” a “pathological liar” and “completely amoral.” He also pointedly refused to endorse it at the Republican National Convention that year.
Trump was not blameless (don’t act surprised). He suggested that Cruz’s wife was unattractive, that she was hiding behind religion, and that her father might have been involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy. (Yes, all of that really happened.)
The two Republicans eventually reconciled, in large part because Cruz went to great lengths to be nice to Trump because he wanted to run for president again one day and knew he couldn’t if he was a sworn enemy of the former president.
Well, someday is now, as evidenced by Cruz’s trip to New Hampshire this week to support House candidate Karoline Leavitt, who is running in a Republican primary in the state’s 1st District.
While visiting the early presidential primary state, Cruz said something startlingly honest about his ambitions and the broader state of the 2024 Republican race.
“There are a lot of candidates out there feeling confident and boasting, ‘I’m running no matter what. I don’t care what Donald Trump says. Anyone who says that is lying,” Cruz told the Washington Examiner. “That is an idiotic statement for someone who is actually thinking about running.”
And added this:
“I don’t know what Trump is going to decide, nobody does. Anyone who tells you they know is making things up. The whole world will change depending on what Donald Trump decides. That’s true for all candidates. That’s true for all potential candidates.
That is 100% correct.
Ted Cruz declines to respond on gun control after massacre in UvaldeEverything that happens, including the campaign of Cruz in New Hampshire and that of the Florida senator Rick Scott in Iowa this weekend, before Trump makes a decision, it’s kind of a preshow.
It’s interesting and worth covering. But if Trump does run, and all indications are that he will, then it probably won’t matter.
Although there are pockets of anti-trumpism within the GOP, the 2022 midterm primary season has largely affirmed the tight grip the former president still has on the party.
Which is not to say that no one is going to compete against him if he launches a campaign. You could see former Vice President Mike Pence, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and even Cruz running against Trump. (Needless to say, all of those people would surely be in the mix if Trump shocks the world and decides not to run again.)
But the truth Cruz exposes is that Trump remains the primary driver of Republican presidential politics. All roads lead to him and his eventual decision to run or not. And until he does, the race isn’t really on for any other Republican.
Point: Trump’s announcement timing has been all over the place in recent months, though lately it seems like he’s content to wait until after the midterm elections to take a decision. Until he does, the Republican field is frozen.