Ted Cruz failed to rally supporters in his last ditch effort to focus attention on himself in his speech to the Republican National Convention Wednesday night — leaving out any mention of Donald Trump.
The resulting booing from the floor of the Quicken Loans Center was deafening.
Delegates who talked to me following the convention’s adjournment resoundingly condemned Cruz for not giving his blessing to Trump, from whom he suffered a drubbing for the party’s presidential nomination.
More significantly, nearly all agreed that the Texas senator may have dashed his chance for a future bid for the White House.
“It was dreadful!” is how Connecticut GOP National Committeewoman Pat Longo characterized Cruz’s speech. “That speech was all about him and not about the party. He’s through.”
Indiana lawyer James Bopp Jr., one of the premier champions of the pro-life cause in the GOP platform, told me: “[Cruz] should have done it [endorsed Trump] for the good of the country. It will take a united party to defeat Hillary Clinton. He didn’t do what he had to.”
“Poor Ted,” said South Carolina’s GOP National Committeewoman Cynthia Costa. “He could have had a Churchillian moment and formed a grand alliance. But instead he demonstrated that he just doesn’t know how to make good political decisions.”
Close associates of Cruz told me prior to his speech that they felt he would not, as Iowa Rep. Steve King put it, “give a rah-rah, ‘I-love-Trump’ address.” King felt that Cruz would instead “probably make a strong case that we are one Supreme Court appointment away from destroying the America we love and how we must work together to defeat Hillary Clinton.”
But King, who was Cruz’s state chairman in the Iowa caucuses, emphasized that “there was a lot of hurt in the nomination race. I still haven’t officially endorsed Trump, but I’m already meeting his people and working with his campaign in Iowa and I’m supportive. That’s where Sen. Cruz should be.”
“This wasn’t helpful for his career,” Franklin and Marshall College professor G. Terry Madonna, considered the premier pollster in Pennsylvania, told me. “He put himself above party unity, appearing self-centered. For the Trump supporters, it's about defeating Hillary Clinton. That's the reason to unite.”
“Cruz should know history better,” said historian Donald Critchlow, director of the Center for Political Thought and Leadership at Arizona State University and author of a new book on the Republican Party. “He pulled a Rockefeller and by doing so came across as a poor loser, as Rockefeller did when he refused to support Goldwater after he became the nominee. He agreed to the pledge to support the nominee of the party, as did the other candidates.
“Like Rockefeller did in 1964, he projected himself as the conscience of the party, and like Rocky he will run again for the presidency only to learn that many in the party despise him. How can a person as bright as Cruz be so politically dumb? This is the question of the day.”
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.
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