Cruz to vote for Trump, whom he once called ‘ut­terly amoral’

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - NEWS - By Steve Peo­ples and Will Weissert

WASH­ING­TON >> Ted Cruz an­nounced Fri­day he will vote for Don­ald Trump, a dra­matic about-face that may help unite a deeply di­vided Repub­li­can Party months af­ter the fiery Texas con­ser­va­tive called Trump a “patho­log­i­cal liar” and “ut­terly amoral.”

Cruz said he was sim­ply fol­low­ing through on a prom­ise to sup­port his party’s pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee, even though the New York bil­lion­aire had nick­named him “Lyin’ Ted,” in­sulted his wife and linked his fa­ther to the John F. Kennedy as­sas­si­na­tion.

But fac­ing in­ten­si­fy­ing po­lit­i­cal pres­sure to back Trump, Cruz said he would cast a vote for Trump, while stop­ping short of an of­fi­cial en­dorse­ment in a state­ment posted Fri­day on Face­book.

The dis­tinc­tion may mat­ter lit­tle to vot­ers, but helps Cruz save face among those sup­port­ers still un­will­ing to for­give Trump’s heated at­tacks dur­ing their ugly and of­ten in­tensely per­sonal pri­mary cam­paign. Cruz was booed by Trump sup­port­ers at the na­tional 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 Fri­day.

Trump ac­cepted Cruz’s sup­port, de­scrib­ing it as an “en­dorse­ment” in a state­ment. That’s even af­ter Trump claimed he didn’t want Cruz’s en­dorse­ment im­me­di­ately af­ter the con­ven­tion chaos.

“I am greatly hon­ored by the en­dorse­ment of Sen­a­tor Cruz,” Trump said Fri­day. “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.”

The devel­op­ment comes as a crit­i­cal time in the 2016 pres­i­den­tial con­test

The first de­bate is on Mon­day and Elec­tion Day is less than seven weeks away. Early vot­ing has al­ready be­gun in some states. Trump and Demo­crat Hil­lary Clin­ton re­main locked in a tight race as both strug­gle to unite their party’s be­hind them. Trump, in par­tic­u­lar, has been branded as a phony by hard-line con­ser­va­tives, Cruz among them, who see him more as a po­lit­i­cal op­por­tunist than a true Repub­li­can.

“This man is a patho­log­i­cal liar. He doesn’t know the dif­fer­ence be­tween truth and lies. He lies prac­ti­cally ev­ery word that comes out of his mouth,” Cruz said of Trump in May, hours be­fore end­ing his cam­paign.

“Don­ald will be­tray his sup­port­ers on ev­ery is­sue,” the Texas sen­a­tor added, while call­ing Trump “ut­terly amoral,” ‘’a nar­cis­sist,” ‘’a bully,” and “a se­rial phi­lan­derer,” among other things.

Clin­ton ad­dressed the shift on so­cial me­dia by post­ing a tweet from Cruz him­self call­ing on Trump to re­lease his tax re­turns. The Texas sen­a­tor re­leased nine years of his re­turns, while Trump has re­fused to re­lease any.

Her run­ning mate, Vir­ginia Sen. Tim Kaine took a dig at Cruz for ex­press­ing sup­port de­spite the per­sonal in­sults Trump rained down on him dur­ing the pri­maries.

“If some­body said that about my dad, they would never have me as a sup­porter for any­thing,” Kaine said as he cam­paigned in Texas.

Cruz fin­ished sec­ond to Trump in the pri­mary and balked at pre­vi­ous prom­ises to en­dorse the even­tual nom­i­nee. On Fri­day, he cited two rea­sons for his shift.

“First, last year, I promised 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 — that’s why I have al­ways been #Nev­erHil­lary.”

Cruz also faced in­ten­si­fy­ing po­lit­i­cal pres­sure from all quar­ters.

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

His base sup­ported his re­fusal to back Trump at first, but the mood shifted re­cently. The vast ma­jor­ity of calls com­ing into Cruz’s of­fice had 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.

Cruz’s de­ci­sion also comes as he weighs the prospect of a 2020 pres­i­den­tial bid, where Trump’s donors could play an im­por­tant role. None are more im­por­tant than the Mercer fam­ily, which backed a pro-Cruz po­lit­i­cal group this spring be­fore be­com­ing ma­jor Trump back­ers.

Trump’s nam­ing of Cruz ally, Utah Sen. Mike Lee, in his up­dated list of po­ten­tial Supreme Court picks an­nounced Fri­day helped ease ten­sions be­tween the two camps. Trump also backed Cruz’s po­si­tion in a con­gres­sional squab­ble over in­ter­net reg­u­la­tion. Yet 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. Other Repub­li­can lead­ers in dif­fi­cult po­lit­i­cal sit­u­a­tions, no­tably New Hamp­shire Sen. Kelly Ay­otte, have taken sim­i­lar po­si­tions.

“Hil­lary Clin­ton is man­i­festly un­fit to be pres­i­dent, and her poli­cies would harm mil­lions of Amer­i­cans,” Cruz wrote Fri­day. “And Don­ald Trump is the only thing stand­ing in her way.”

THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, right, lis­tens as Don­ald Trump speaks dur­ing a Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial pri­mary de­bate Feb. 25 at The Uni­ver­sity of Hous­ton in Hous­ton.

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