As the rivalry between Trump and Cruz reaches its crescendo, with the two candidates splitting key states in yesterday's primary, moments ago Ted Cruz got some unexpected support from former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush who endorsed Ted Cruz for president early this morning, a move which the Rupert Murdoch-owned WSJ describes as "a big prize for the Texas senator as he tries to consolidate support of Republicans opposed to frontrunner Donald Trump."
This is ironic because, when Jeb Bush started publicly flirting with a presidential campaign in 2014, Ted Cruz welcomed him into ring by comparing him to the "pale pastels" on the colorwheel, and the last three failed Republican nominees. Bush returned fire throughout the campaign, saying Cruz "held our democracy hostage" with his involvement in the 2013 government shutdown and, on foreign policy, "modulates his views in the way people expect politicians to do." But, as Bloomberg writes, what a difference The Donald makes. With Donald Trump inching closer to the Republican nomination, Bush and Cruz are putting the ugly past behind them to thwart their mutual nemesis. Bush is backing Cruz's bid for the White House.
Cruz had been critical of Bush, and wrote about bad blood with the Bush family in his autobiography. Former President George W. Bush unloaded on the Texas senator during an October fundraiser in Colorado, questioning Cruz's qualifications as a first-term senator and criticizing his alliance, at the time, with Trump. “I just don’t like the guy,” Bush said, according to a Politico report. George P. Bush, Jeb Bush's son, who backed Cruz's Senate bid in 2012, called Cruz's victory in Iowa an "aberration."
But Cruz phoned Bush immediately after the former Florida governor quit the race last month. Another brother, Neil Bush, joined Cruz's finance team earlier this month.
The endorsement, announced Wednesday in a statement, won't swing any states for Cruz in the campaign. Instead, its significance is another signal of acceptance from the Republican establishment that had long identified Cruz as the party's problem child.
Ironically, this support by the establishment may end up backfiring and ultimately hurting the Cruz campaign, because just like Mitt Romney's vocal rejection of Trump ended up adding to the Donald's momentum, so the core of GOP establishment tipping its cards that Cruz is its man may draw more independents back away from Cruz and into Trump's camp.
In a statement released by the Cruz campaign announcing the endorsement Mr. Bush said, “For the sake of our party and country, we must move to overcome the divisiveness and vulgarity Donald Trump has brought into the political arena, or we will certainly lose our chance to defeat the Democratic nominee and reverse President Obama’s failed policies.”
The endorsement, which was first reported by Politico, comes in the wake of a split decision in Tuesday’s voting among Republicans in the West. Mr. Cruz won the Utah caucuses, while Mr. Trump won the Arizona primary.
Finally, Bush's decision to back Cruz, like Mitt Romney's acknowledgement that he voted for Cruz in the Utah primary, is another blow for John Kasich, who, having won only his home state, is struggling to maintain relevance in the race. The Ohio governor has argued that he'd be the best choice at a contested convention, pointing to polls showing he may be a stronger candidate against Hillary Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic nomination.
Which, ultimately, helps Donald Trump.