Sen. Lindsey Graham on Friday called on all fellow Ted Cruz-hating Republicans to join him in supporting the Texas Republican’s candidacy. “If I can do it, anybody can do it,” he said. Clearly, Republicans who are appalled by Donald Trump aren’t flocking to Cruz out of love for his personality.
Republicans don’t like Ted Cruz. That’s pretty apparent. But at the same time, they can also read poll numbers, and Donald Trump isn’t exactly giving them a sanguine feeling about their chances of winning the White House.
Many Republicans are openly holding their noses and pledging to support Ted Cruz for president, hoping that he at least has a fighting chance (his numbers aren’t great either). But let’s be clear, these Republicans coming out in support of Cruz aren’t exactly endorsing him. They’re simply saying they’ll vote for him because he’s a Republican and he isn’t Donald Trump.
Sen. Lindsey Graham’s “support” for Cruz is the best example of this conundrum and is probably the most well known. He famously joked that you could murder the Texas Republican on the floor of the Senate, and if the trial was held there, no one would convict.
But Graham is now on the Cruz train. Having once described the choice between Cruz or Trump as akin to “being shot or poisoned,” Graham recently concluded: “Well, Donald is like being shot in the head. You might find an antidote to poisoning.”
Some of his colleagues aren’t so blunt, but it’s clear they too are having a tough time coming around on Cruz.
Earlier this week, Sen. Ron Johnson, who’s in a tight re-election battle in Wisconsin, said he can’t bring himself to endorse Cruz or Trump, but said he would support the nominee. When asked what his concerns about Trump were, Johnson had no problem citing Trump’s plan to build a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico. But then, when asked if he wanted to air any concerns about Cruz, he replied with a chuckle, “Not particularly,” as if to be holding back a flood of criticism. “From my standpoint, I like the Ronald Reagan 11th commandment. Speak no ill,” he said.
Then there is Sen. James Risch of Idaho, who said on CNN this week that he can’t support Trump. The math doesn’t favor Kasich, he noted, “so by a process of elimination, that gets you to Cruz. … At this point there’s no choice.”
Republican South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who previously endorsed Marco Rubio, will also begrudgingly support Cruz. She said she’s praying Cruz can “get where he needs to go” and, like some of the others, doesn’t feel the “need to formally endorse” him.
Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) on the other hand, who’s also facing a close re-election, “told supporters at a campaign fundraiser for his own re-election that he would vote for liberal Sen. Bernie Sanders for president before Cruz,” and, he “did not appear to be joking,” according to the AP. Burr demanded a retraction to the story, but the AP is standing by it. Burr has since said he’ll support the GOP nominee.
(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)