And so it was written that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has dropped out of the race. Okay, not officially -- officially, he's just suspended his campaign. Candidates don't quit races anymore, they just suspend them. I think that Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal and Jim Gilmore have still only suspended their campaigns, so to all their supporters, there's still a chance.
The question about Ted Cruz though is quo vadis? Where is he going next? Cruz is only 45 years old, and appears to be popular in Texas, so he should be around in the Senate for a while. And he clearly has presidential hopes, which can only have been whetted by finishing second this year.
If for some hellish reason Donald Trump wins the presidency and gets re-elected, Cruz will only be 53 in 2024. If for some equally hellish reason Trump wins this year but is as horrifyingly disastrous as one presumes, and can't even get his party's nomination next time around, Ted Cruz will only be 49.
The only other possibility is if God really does love America and Trump loses, then that opens the door as well for another run by Cruz in four years, when he'll be, as noted, just 49.
While it's possible that Donald Trump could lose the presidency and run again for the Republican nomination in four years, it would seem unlikely. If he loses, his "brand" would most probably be tarnished, most especially if he loses disastrously and brings down the GOP. He could of course lose in a close election, making another run more possible. But his campaign has largely been a circus act, and watching it again probably will wear onion-skin thin. Of course, with Donald Trump any predictions come with a Caution sticker. But even if he did run again, it would be with the worst mark on him that Donald Trump can give anyone, "Loser." So, the door would be more open for another Cruz run.
The question is how popular is Ted Cruz with Republican Party voters. The GOP Establishment clearly abhors every ounce of him. The only substantive support he reluctantly got from them came at the very end to stop Trump. That won't be at play in any future elections.
I got the sense this year that while Ted Cruz definitely has a core support among the evangelical base of the Republican Party, his meaningful support doesn't go much higher. He did very well this years largely thanks to a very large field, and a very weak one -- and because of attrition. A person could get low polling and limited votes, but stay in the middle of the pack with 16 candidates splitting the vote. And as one-by-one Donald Trump took on his biggest competitors, he smeared them all and knocked them off. Don't forget that Ted Cruz was not seen as a threat to Trump in the early half of the campaign, so he left the senator alone from his vitriol -- in fact, early on they were Best Buddies, even praising one another. "Lyin' Ted" came much later.
So, as everyone else dropped out -- sorry, "suspended" their campaigns -- Cruz was able to stick around, supported by his base. And eventually, as the field narrowed, he probably picked up his fair share of "Anyone but Trump" votes.
The point being that I'm not sure if Ted Cruz has the large, general support among Republican voters that a second place finish would suggest.
I could be wrong. The GOP electorate has shown itself this past year to be quite insane. Supporting Dr. Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Ted Cruz and ultimately Donald Trump. And gave close to no support to people like Sen. Lindsey Graham, Gov. Chris Christie, former Gov. Jeb Bush, Sen. Rand Paul, Gov. Rick Perry, and Gov. Scott Walker. So, I'm not going to start predicting what mad dervish the Republican Party will do at any time, especially in four years, at least not until the fever breaks.
I do, however, think Ted Cruz will be around for a while and has already started to build for his campaign in 2020. Whether that's a fool's errand, we'll find out. I think it's more likely that it is. But the GOP has shown that it's perfectly happy this year with fools.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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