A Model For Ted Cruz's Convention Speech

One of the most out-of-left-field events of this decidedly out-of-left-field campaign season was the announcement last week that not only would Ted Cruz attend the GOP convention in Cleveland — he had previously said he was not going — but that he was going to have a prime time speaking slot.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who was Donald Trump’s chief rival during the tumultuous Republican presidential primary, said Thursday he has accepted Trump’s offer to speak at the Republican convention but stopped short of making an endorsement.

“We had a positive and productive meeting this morning with Donald Trump. Donald asked me to speak at the Republican convention, and I told him I’d be happy to do so,” Cruz told reporters in Washington.

It marks a notable shift for Trump, who said just weeks ago his former rivals who haven’t endorsed him wouldn’t be invited to speak at the convention.

That doesn’t mean an endorsement’s impending — Cruz said “there was no discussion of any endorsement” during their meeting. The Texas senator has been a prominent holdout on supporting Trump since exiting the GOP primary, but his reluctance is unsurprising in the context of the nasty battle that unfolded between the two candidates as the campaign wore on.

At first blush this seems like quite a climb-down for Ted Cruz. Remember back to the Indiana primary:

This morning, Donald Trump went on national television and attacked my father. Donald Trump alleges that my dad was involved in assassinating JFK. Donald Trump alleges that my dad was involved in assassinating JFK. Now, let’s be clear. This is nuts. This is not a reasonable position; this is just kooky.

And while I’m at it, I guess I should just go and admit, yes, my dad killed JFK, he is secretly Elvis, and Jimmy Hoffa is buried in his backyard.

I’m going to do something I haven’t done for the entire campaign, for those of y’all who have traveled with me, all across the country: I’m going to tell you what I really think about Donald Trump: 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. And in a pattern that I think is straight out of a psychology textbook, his response is to accuse everybody else of lying.

He accuses everybody on that debate stage of lying, and it’s simply a mindless yell; whatever he does he accuses everyone else of doing. The man cannot tell the truth, but he combines it with being a narcissist. A narcissist at a level I don’t think this country has ever seen.

Think about the next five years: the boasting, the pathological lying, the picking up the National Enquirer and accusing people of killing JFK. The bullying; think about your kids coming back and emulating this.

For people in Indiana who long for a day when we were nice to each other; when we treated people with respect, when we didn’t engage in sleaze and lies, and I would note: one of the lies he engages in listen, Donald Trump is a serial philanderer, and he boasts about it.

This is not a secret, he’s proud of being a serial philanderer. I want everyone to think about your teenage kids. The president of the United States talks about how great it is to commit adultery, how proud he is, describes his battles with venereal disease as his own personal Vietnam. That’s a quote, by the way, on “The Howard Stern Show” Do you want to spend the next five years with your kids bragging about infidelity?

Now what does he do? He does the same projection, just like a pathological liar he accuses everyone else of lying. Even though he boasts about his infidelity he plants in David Pecker’s National Enquirer a lie about me and my family, attacking my family. He accuses others of doing what he is doing.

Perhaps. And while it is true that many of the #NeverTrump persuasion will declare Cruz anathema after his speech if he doesn’t reprise his Indiana comments, I think there is a longer game at work here.

First, Ted Cruz is obviously not done with presidential politics. He has an extensive list of small donors that let him set fundraising records in that category. These people are a natural base for him to rely upon. It has also been reported that he is creating a rather robust skeleton for a 2020 run.

Ted Cruz has been conspicuously silent since his return to Capitol Hill from the campaign trail, but the gears, as always, are turning. Behind closed doors Cruz has been supervising the vast expansion of his electoral enterprise, integrating the operations of his campaign team — policy, political, financial — in an effort to harness his newfound national following with an eye on 2020.

Central to these plans is the creation of two new affiliated nonprofits, their names to be announced in the coming days, which will effectively keep Cruz’s political machinery humming over the next four years. These groups, one a 501(c)3 and the other a 501(c)4, will be responsible for everything from championing Cruz’s legislative priorities to maintaining his donor database and coordinating his early-state travel. They will be an outgrowth of Cruz’s existing campaign apparatus, the nucleus of which has remained active in the aftermath of his departure from the race on May 3.

As Cruz seems disinclined to endorse Trump, drawing the ire of Mike Huckabee and Megyn Kelly, in fact, he gave an outline of what he intends to speak about:

“I’m gonna urge Americans to get back to the Constitution, to change the path we’re on. Eight failed years of the Obama-Clinton economy. Eight failed years of a presidency disregarding the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Eight failed years of a commander in chief not protecting America and keeping us safe from radical Islamic terrorism. It’s time for that to end, and so I’m going to do my very best to point to the policies and principles that we should be unifying behind and that give a better direction to this country going forward,” he said.

All of this has a familiar echo. A vanquished primary opponent using a speech at the winner’s convention to remind disenchanted voters of who they could have nominated. It is Ronald Reagan in 1976.

Reagan arrived at the Kansas City, Missouri, after a hard fought campaign against an incumbent president who had a gaping, sucking chest wound the size of Richard Nixon’s pardon. Ford had a majority of the delegates, though not enough to elect him on the first ballot, and a bare plurality of the popular vote. Reagan made a gambit to win outright and fell short. He settled for a prime time speaking slot.

…We have just heard a call to arms based on that platform, and a call to us to really be successful in communicating and reveal to the American people the difference between this platform and the platform of the opposing party, which is nothing but a revamp and a reissue and a running of a late, late show of the thing that we have been hearing from them for the last 40 years.

If I could just take a moment; I had an assignment the other day. Someone asked me to write a letter for a time capsule that is going to be opened in Los Angeles a hundred years from now, on our Tricentennial.

It sounded like an easy assignment. They suggested I write something about the problems and the issues today. I set out to do so, riding down the coast in an automobile, looking at the blue Pacific out on one side and the Santa Ynez Mountains on the other, and I couldn’t help but wonder if it was going to be that beautiful a hundred years from now as it was on that summer day.

Then as I tried to write — let your own minds turn to that task. You are going to write for people a hundred years from now, who know all about us. We know nothing about them. We don’t know what kind of a world they will be living in.

And suddenly I thought to myself if I write of the problems, they will be the domestic problems the President spoke of here tonight; the challenges confronting us, the erosion of freedom that has taken place under Democratic rule in this country, the invasion of private rights, the controls and restrictions on the vitality of the great free economy that we enjoy. These are our challenges that we must meet.

And then again there is that challenge of which he spoke that we live in a world in which the great powers have poised and aimed at each other horrible missiles of destruction, nuclear weapons that can in a matter of minutes arrive at each other’s country and destroy, virtually, the civilized world we live in.

And suddenly it dawned on me, those who would read this letter a hundred years from now will know whether those missiles were fired. They will know whether we met our challenge. Whether they have the freedoms that we have known up until now will depend on what we do here.

Will they look back with appreciation and say, “Thank God for those people in 1976 who headed off that loss of freedom, who kept us now 100 years later free, who kept our world from nuclear destruction”?

And if we failed, they probably won’t get to read the letter at all because it spoke of individual freedom, and they won’t be allowed to talk of that or read of it.

This is our challenge; and this is why here in this hall tonight, better than we have ever done before, we have got to quit talking to each other and about each other and go out and communicate to the world that we may be fewer in numbers than we have ever been, but we carry the message they are waiting for.

We must go forth from here united, determined that what a great general said a few years ago is true: There is no substitute for victory, Mr. President.

This speech, when juxtaposed with Ford’s acceptance speech left much of the GOP convinced that they had just nominated the wrong guy.

Ted Cruz is running in 2020. It might be against an incumbent Hillary Clinton, or it might be against an incumbent Donald Trump. Regardless of whichever it is, the one thing that you can bet good money on is that they will have created a Chernobyl-sized mess and they will be wallowing in a pool of graft, corruption, and utter stupidity. If he sulks in his tent during this campaign, by 2020 many will have forgotten about him. If he gives a speech that overshadows Trump… and my dog can do that… he will create a reputation that will only grow over the next four years.