In 180, Cruz set to cast bal­lot for ex-foe Trump

Baltimore Sun - - ELECTION 2016 - By Steve Peo­ples and Will Weis­sert

WASH­ING­TON — Ted Cruz an­nounced Fri­day that he will vote for Don­ald Trump, a dra­matic about­face for the Texas sen­a­tor who pre­vi­ously called the New York busi­ness­man a “patho­log­i­cal liar” and “ut­terly amoral.”

Cruz was fac­ing in­ten­si­fy­ing po­lit­i­cal pres­sure to back his party’s pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee af­ter re­fus­ing to do so at the Repub­li­can Na­tional Con­ven­tion this sum­mer.

Cruz said he will vote for Trump in Novem­ber, but he stopped short of an of­fi­cial en­dorse­ment in a state­ment posted Fri­day on Face­book. The dis­tinc­tion may mat­ter lit­tle to vot­ers, but it helps Cruz to save face among his loyal sup­port­ers still un­will­ing to for­give Trump’s at­tacks on the Texas sen­a­tor’s wife and fa­ther dur­ing their ugly and of­ten in­tensely per­sonal pri­mary cam­paign.

Cruz noted that he was booed by Trump sup­port­ers at the con­ven­tion for en­cour­ag­ing Repub­li­cans to “vote your con­science.”

“Af­ter many months of care­ful con­sid­er­a­tion, of prayer and search­ing my own con­science, I have de­cided that on Elec­tion Day, I will vote for the Repub­li­can nom­i­nee, Don­ald Trump,” Cruz wrote.

Cruz fin­ished sec­ond to Trump in a bitter pri­mary bat­tle and balked at pre­vi­ous prom­ises to en­dorse the even­tual GOP pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee. He said Trump made things too per­sonal when he called him “Lyin’ Ted,” in­sulted Cruz’s wife, Heidi, and re­peated dis­cred­ited ac­cu­sa­tions link­ing Cruz’s Cuba-born fa­ther to the John F. Kennedy as­sas­si­na­tion.

Cruz cited two rea­sons for his shift.

“First, last year, I prom- ised to sup­port the Repub­li­can nom­i­nee. And I in­tend to keep my word,” he wrote. “Sec­ond, even though I have had ar­eas of sig­nif­i­cant dis­agree­ment with our nom­i­nee, by any mea­sure Hil­lary Clin­ton is wholly un­ac­cept­able.”

Since the con­ven­tion speech, polls have sug­gested Cruz’s pop­u­lar­ity was slip­ping na­tion­ally and in Texas — where he could face a pri­mary chal­lenger for re­elec­tion in 2018.

Cruz also faced in­ten­si­fy­ing po­lit­i­cal pres­sure from other quar­ters.

His base was over­whelm­ingly sup­port­ive ini­tially, but the mood has shifted re­cently. The vast ma­jor­ity of calls com­ing into Cruz’s of­fice turned in­creas­ingly neg­a­tive in re­cent weeks, with many vot­ers urg­ing him to sup­port Trump to pre­vent a Clin­ton vic­tory, ac­cord­ing to Repub­li­cans fa­mil­iar with the sit­u­a­tion. The Repub­li­cans spoke on the con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause th­ese were in­ter­nal dis­cus­sions.

At the same time, the large staff that worked on Cruz’s pres­i­den­tial bid pushed him not to en­dorse. Most re­fused to ac­cept jobs with the Trump cam­paign when of­fered fol­low­ing Cruz’s de­par­ture from the pri­mary cam­paign this spring. And as re­cently as this week, some warned they would not work for Cruz again if he of­fi­cially en­dorsed Trump.

Trump’s nam­ing of a Cruz ally, Utah Sen. Mike Lee, in his up­dated list of po­ten­tial Supreme Court picks an­nounced Fri­day may have helped ease ten­sions be­tween the camps.

The 10-name ex­pan­sion also adds sev­eral mi­nor­ity judges to Trump’s pre­vi­ously all-white list, in­clud­ing Venezue­lan-born Fed­erico Moreno, a 64-year-old judge of the U.S. Dis­trict Court for the South­ern Dis­trict of Florida. It in­cludes an African-Amer­i­can judge, a South Asian judge and a fe­male judge who served in the Marines.

Trump in May un­veiled his orig­i­nal list of 11 federal and state court judges as po­ten­tial re­place­ments for the late Jus­tice An­tonin Scalia. He and his al­lies have re­peat­edly cited con­trol of the Supreme Court as a top rea­son why Repub­li­can skep­tics should rally around his can­di­dacy.

Trumpalso backed Cruz’s po­si­tion in a con­gres­sional squab­ble over in­ter­net reg­u­la­tion. But bad blood re­mains. The de­ci­sion to an­nounce his in­ten­tion to vote for Trump, rather than en­dorse him out­right, was seen as a com­pro­mise — even if vot­ers see lit­tle dis­tinc­tion be­tween the two.

EVAN VUCCI/AP

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has pre­vi­ously called the GOP pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee a “patho­log­i­cal liar” and “ut­terly amoral.”

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