Tea party con­vinced Trump eyes Cruz for ticket

Texan is spared ty­coon’s at­tacks

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY S.A. MILLER

A group of tea party activists is con­vinced that Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial fron­trun­ner Don­ald Trump has struck a se­cret deal with ri­val Sen. Ted Cruz to guar­an­tee the Texan the vice pres­i­den­tial spot on the ticket, and con­ser­va­tives are rav­ing that it would be the best pair­ing since Harry Bur­nett Reese com­bined peanut but­ter and Her­shey’s chocolate.

The Cruz cam­paign ve­he­mently de­nied that there was an agree­ment to form the con­ser­va­tives’ “dream ticket,” while the Trump cam­paign re­mained mum.

“There is no such se­cret deal,” said Cruz cam­paign na­tional spokesman Rick Tyler.

Still, spec­u­la­tion about an ar­ranged mar­riage of Mr. Trump’s self-styled con­ser­va­tive cru­sade and Mr. Cruz’s die-hard tea party con­vic­tions gained cred­i­bil­ity last week when Mr. Trump broached the sub­ject him­self.

The bil­lion­aire businessman named Mr. Cruz as an ac­cept­able run­ning mate dur­ing an in­ter­view on Laura In­gra­ham’s na­tion­ally syn­di­cated talk ra­dio show.

“I like him. He’s backed ev­ery­thing I’ve said,” Mr. Trump said in en­dors­ing the se­na­tor from Texas as a pos­si­ble VP. “Ted Cruz is now agree­ing with me 100 per­cent.”

The re­mark piqued the in­ter­est of tea party and con­ser­va­tive activists who had al­ready the­o­rized that re­cent moves by the two cam­paigns sig­naled a se­cret pact.

“It’s highly likely that there is a sweet­heart deal there, and it is a very good thing with al­most no down­side,” said Tom O’Hal­lo­ran, host of the Texas-based con­ser­va­tive we­b­cast Pa­triot Ra­dio Show, who sub­scribes to the the­ory of a se­cret TrumpCruz ticket.

“It’s a bril­liant move,” he said. “It sounds to me like a deal that was made in heaven.”

Mr. O’Hal­lo­ran and other be­liev­ers pointed to a pur­ported se­cret meet­ing be­tween Mr. Trump and Mr. Cruz in Dal­las at the end of the sum­mer and the ab­sence of at­tacks waged by the com­bat­ive Mr. Trump against Mr. Cruz, the only ma­jor can­di­date to be spared Mr. Trump’s blis­ter­ingly per­sonal at­tacks.

Mr. Cruz has mostly re­frained from at­tack­ing any of his ri­vals in the crowded GOP field.

How­ever, Mr. Cruz last month said that he was con­fi­dent that he could beat Mr. Trump in the pri­mary race.

“I don’t be­lieve Don­ald is go­ing to be the nominee, and I think, in time, the lion’s share of his supporters end up with us,” Mr. Cruz said in an in­ter­view on WABC Ra­dio.

“If you look to the records of all the Repub­li­can can­di­dates, there’s a big dif­fer­ence be­tween my record and that of ev­ery­one else if you ask who has stood up to Wash­ing­ton,” he said. “I think his in­volve­ment has been tremen­dously help­ful to my cam­paign, be­cause it’s framed the cen­tral ques­tion of this pri­mary.”

The de­tente be­tween the two camps will be put to the test now that Mr. Cruz is surg­ing in Iowa and within strik­ing dis­tance of Mr. Trump.

Ac­cord­ing to a Quin­nip­iac Univer­sity Poll re­leased Tues­day, Mr. Cruz has gained 13 points in Iowa for a sec­ond-place po­si­tion at 23 per­cent, closely trail­ing Mr. Trump with 25 per­cent.

Mr. Cruz over­took Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial con­tender Ben Car­son, who fell to third place with 18 per­cent in the poll.

The most com­pelling ev­i­dence, ac­cord­ing to the the­o­rists, is Mr. Trump’s suc­cess­ful re­cruit­ment of Cruz loy­al­ist Ka­t­rina Pier­son, a tea party heavy­weight in Texas who played a key role in Mr. Cruz’s up­set elec­tion to the U.S. Se­nate in 2012.

Mr. Trump hired Ms. Pier­son ear­lier this month as his cam­paign’s na­tional spokes­woman.

She first stepped out in pub­lic for Mr. Trump in Septem­ber, in­tro­duc­ing him to a rally of about 20,000 peo­ple at Amer­i­can Air­lines Cen­ter in Dal­las.

Ken Crow, an Iowa tea party ac­tivist who is close to Ms. Pier­son, said that he is con­vinced that there is a deal be­tween the two can­di­dates.

“I find that ex­tremely in­ter­est­ing, know­ing Ka­t­rina’s ap­par­ent af­fec­tion for Se­na­tor Cruz, and par­tic­u­larly since she spent so much time get­ting him elected in Texas and her un­wa­ver­ing ded­i­ca­tion to tea party val­ues,” he said.

“I hope my hy­poth­e­sis that some­thing is go­ing on proves to be true,” said Mr. Crow.

Ms. Pier­son did not re­spond to an email from The Wash­ing­ton Times in­quir­ing about a Trump-Cruz deal and her in­volve­ment in the cam­paign.

Many tea party lead­ers in Texas balked at talk of a se­cret deal for Mr. Trump and Mr. Cruz to join forces. But they still loved the idea.

“It sounds more like a con­spir­acy the­ory than an ac­tu­al­ity,” said Jeff Rogers of the Lone Star Tea Party.

He said that he prefers Mr. Cruz to Mr. Trump, but he would em­brace the ticket re­gard­less of who was on top.

“I could buy into that whole­heart­edly. The two of them to­gether would be great,” said Mr. Rogers.

How­ever much the Trump-Cruz idea ap­peals to some tea party mem­bers, tea party activists con­cede that Mr. Trump does not ad­here to the move­ment’s con­sti­tu­tion­al­ist tenets.

“I would feel much bet­ter about a Trump ticket that in­cluded Ted Cruz,” said Ken Emanuel­son, an ac­tivist with the Far North Dal­las Tea Party who has known Mr. Cruz for 15 years. “I’m not sure that Ted would take a VP slot.”

Mr. Emanuel­son said he didn’t be­lieve there was a deal, though he said the two teams had “al­lied in­ter­ests” that have kept at­tacks against each other at bay.

“Right now both teams have an in­ter­est in not go­ing af­ter each other,” he said. But “it would sur­prise me if there was any­thing for­mal.”

“I find that ex­tremely in­ter­est­ing, know­ing Ka­t­rina’s ap­par­ent af­fec­tion for Se­na­tor Cruz, and par­tic­u­larly since she spent so much time get­ting him elected in Texas and her un­wa­ver­ing ded­i­ca­tion to tea party val­ues.”

— Ken Crow, Iowa tea party ac­tivist

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS PHO­TO­GRAPHS

The camps of GOP can­di­dates Don­ald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz re­main mum on whether or not the bil­lion­aire front-run­ner is con­sid­er­ing Mr. Cruz as a run­ning mate. The businessman named Mr. Cruz as an ac­cept­able run­ning mate dur­ing a ra­dio show in­ter­view.

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