I should have seen this coming. Just two days ago, Jennifer Rubin, who has been vitriolic in her coverage of Ted Cruz had this to say in a post titled Sorry, Marco Rubio, it’s time to fold:
Right now — until March 15 — you have remarkable leverage. You can endorse Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), asking that your roughly 150 delegates (more than enough to put him in the lead) vote for him, and likely get the vice presidential spot. Such a move would be an act of true statesmanship, forever banishing the image of a callow young man. It would dominate the news for days. Cruz would be seen in a whole new light — someone who can unite the party and who understands that politics involves winning people over. Your supporters and staff would see their efforts have not been wasted; you would be on a presidential ticket. (Once March 15 comes and goes, you’ve likely lost leverage to snag VP after losing more states.)
National Review, which has also been cheerleading for Marco Rubio during this primary season, has now decided it will endorse Ted Cruz for president. It may be a bit begrudging but the realization has finally seeped in that Rubio will not be the nominee:
We supported Cruz’s campaign in 2012 because we saw in him what conservatives nationwide have come to see as well. Cruz is a brilliant and articulate exponent of our views on the full spectrum of issues. Other Republicans say we should protect the Constitution. Cruz has actually done it; indeed, it has been the animating passion of his career. He is a strong believer in the liberating power of free markets, including free trade (notwithstanding the usual rhetorical hedges). His skepticism about “comprehensive immigration reform” is leading him to a realism about the impact of immigration that has been missing from our policymaking and debate. He favors a foreign policy based on a hard-headed assessment of American interests, one that seeks to strengthen our power but is mindful of its limits. He forthrightly defends religious liberty, the right to life of unborn children, and the role of marriage in connecting children to their parents — causes that reduce too many other Republicans to mumbling.
That forthrightness is worth emphasizing. Conservatism should not be merely combative; but especially in our political culture, it must be willing to be controversial. Too many Republicans shrink from this implication of our creed. Not Cruz. And this virtue is connected to others that primary voters should keep in mind. Conservatives need not worry that Cruz will be tripped up by an interview question, or answer it with mindless conventional wisdom when a better answer is available. We need rarely worry, either, that his stumbling words will have to be recast by aides and supporters later. Neither of those things could be said about a lot of Republican nominees over the years.
Over the past two presidential elections, the National Review was much more focused on getting Mitt Romney the nomination than anything else. Maybe the endorsement of Cruz indicates that a formerly conservative publication that has become, for the most part, slavishly establishmentarian has returned to its roots.