Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s decision to back Donald Trump for president on Friday will increase the pressure on other former 2016 rivals still reticent to throw their support behind their party’s nominee.
After months of holding his support for Trump, Cruz effectively buried the hatchet when he announced via Facebook that after months of “careful consideration,” “prayer” and “searching my own conscience” he had decided to support Trump. Saying that he had chosen to honor his pledge he made at the beginning of the primary season to back his Party’s nominee, the Texas senator encouraged other NeverTrumpers and his supporters to do the same in order to defeat Hillary Clinton.
“I am greatly honored by the endorsement of Senator Cruz. We have fought the battle and he was a tough and brilliant opponent. I look forward to working with him for many years to come in order to make America great again.”
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“If Clinton wins, we know — with 100% certainty — that she would deliver on her left-wing promises, with devastating results for our country. My conscience tells me I must do whatever I can to stop that,” Cruz wrote. “A year ago, I pledged to endorse the Republican nominee, and I am honoring that commitment. And if you don’t want to see a Hillary Clinton presidency, I encourage you to vote for him.”
Cruz, who garnered the second most votes and delegates during the GOP primary cycle, had remained one of the most significant obstacles to a complete unification of the GOP behind Trump. Cruz notably refrained from endorsing Trump during his speech at the Republican National Convention. The Texas senator was booed by attendees when he urged conservatives to “vote your conscience.”
After getting behind Trump Friday Cruz made clear his support didn’t come at a price.
“There were no deals,” Cruz told Eyewitness News after his endorsement announcement. “We had been engaged in conversations. You know it’s been a decision as I said I’ve been thinking about and praying about for weeks and months, discussing it with my family, and I made the decision today and announced it Friday.”
Cruz added that despite the personal attacks Trump levied against his wife and his father during the bitter primary season, they had also chosen to forgive Trump and move forward.
“[In] politics, there’s always criticism. If no one is throwing rocks at you, you’re not doing much of anything. I’ve discussed it with both Heidi and my dad. I love my wife. I love my dad. Both of them have forgiven Donald. I have forgiven him. This is not personal. This is not about our family. It’s about the country,” Cruz said.
The endorsement was met with warmth by Trump.
“I am greatly honored by the endorsement of Senator Cruz. We have fought the battle and he was a tough and brilliant opponent. I look forward to working with him for many years to come in order to make America great again,” Trump said in a statement on Friday.
The focus now turns off Cruz and to the other Republicans who have resisted getting behind their party’s nominee.
Jenny Beth Martin, the chairman of the Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund praised Cruz for listening to the will of the people while also suggesting other anti-Trump Republicans do the same.
“It is clear Ted Cruz has examined his principles, considered the choice at hand and has decided to lead by example in endorsing Donald Trump as the man who will repeal Obamacare, balance our budget, and ensure the Supreme Court protects our most cherished rights over Hillary Clinton, who will represent another four years of the failed Obama Administration,” Beth Martin said in a statement Friday.
“It is refreshing to see a leader like Ted Cruz, who is willing to listen to the American people, and we think more politicians should do the same.”
Cruz joins the ranks of other 2016 rivals including Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Dr. Ben Carson who have publicly backed the Republican nominee.
The most notable holdouts are now reduced to Ohio Gov. John Kasich and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
Both had pledged to support the nominee of their party during the primaries.
Bush, who has said that it “breaks my heart” that he “can’t vote for Hillary Clinton” and “can’t vote for Donald Trump,” has remained immovable. Reports even surfaced on Monday that Bush’s father, former Republican President George H.W. Bush, may be voting for Clinton come Nov. 8.
As for Kasich, the Ohio governor told CNN this week that it is “very unlikely” that he would vote for Trump, though he assuredly will not be voting for Clinton.
The decision from Cruz, who is widely rumored to harbor ambitions for another presidential bid the future, came one week after Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus suggested there would be consequences for any GOP candidates who did not support the nominee in 2016.
Kasich, who has travelled to New Hampshire and wrote an op-ed for that state’s largest newspaper since the primaries ended, would still qualify for whatever those consequences would be if he tried to launch a bid in 2020 or 2024.