Ted Cruz has wisely chosen his words about uncrowned GOP nominee Donald Trump. Wait and see, he says. But the Republican National Convention in mid-July will be loaded with Cruz loyalists, and they will want to see and hear their idol. For that to happen, Cruz will have to pay the price of admission.
What might that be?
For starters, Cruz will have to make some statement or indication that he’ll support “the nominee” if not the man himself. For party unity. He’ll have to stand on the podium with Marco Rubio, smile and wave while Trump proceeds with his coronation.
The question is really, does Trump need Cruz more than Cruz needs to be in Cleveland? It would seem not. The Houston Chronicle reported last month that the Trump and Cruz campaigns are playing things close to the vest on the senator’s role–if any–at the convention.
Officials in the Trump and Cruz camps – the top two rivals in the GOP nomination battle – declined to comment on their plans for a possible stage appearance by Cruz, who will arrive at the convention with a throng of about 567 delegates.
“Conversations about the program are just beginning,” said Republican National Committee spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski. “This is very much something we do alongside the campaign and have now started that process.”
Cruz will have an enormous bloc of delegates, 559 bound and possibly a thousand more who are bound to others (mostly Trump) but personally loyal to him.
“It certainly would not make sense for Ted Cruz not to have a speaking slot at the national convention,” said Dr. Robin Armstrong, a Cruz supporter and RNC member from Friendswood. “If he did not have a role at the convention, I would be shocked. If everyone is talking about unity going forward in November, that would be a good step toward it.”
But Trump is in charge of the program and the tone of the convention. For Cruz to be given a prime slot (and it makes no sense to have him speak without a prime slot), the price will be steep. Trump has Chairman Reince Priebus and the GOP leadership to wrangle the delegates and keep the rules committee from causing chaos. They will not allow Cruz to stand up and commit treason against the GOP in their own arena.
The price is likely to be making phone calls and private contacts with key delegates close to Cruz and discourage any kind of floor fight. A clean, unified, drama-free convention that ends with Trump faced with adoring crowds is the party’s goal. Cruz can go a long way to make that happen.
But is he willing to pay the personal price by putting the party ahead of his principles? Cruz’s history suggests he won’t.
We will just have to wait and see.