In what is sure to be a peek into how an Emperor Trump would rule, with Nixonian paranoia and unbridled ego, the word is out in regards to Senator Ted Cruz’s speaking slot at the GOP convention next week.
Cruz’s continued public silence, as his loyalists actively plotted to undermine Trump on Thursday, irked Trump allies and Republican leaders alike, all eager to avoid a public spectacle when the four-day gathering formally begins on Monday. Yet having accepted a speaking slot on the main stage, there are signs the 45-year-old senator is willing to cooperate with Trump’s campaign — privately, at least — even as he works to sustain his popularity among anti-Trump conservatives.
Activists loyal to Cruz on Thursday waged a messy battle over convention rules that could free delegates to disregard the results of state-by-state primary contests, among other changes. The rebels face long odds, but even a small rebellion could embarrass the Trump campaign and party leaders during an event designed to demonstrate party unity.
“Cruz could put a stop to it,” said Iowa Republican national committeeman Steve Scheffler.
The Cruz and Trump camps insist they’re working together, and that Cruz will do nothing to encourage a rebellion of delegates at the convention. In fact, the belief is that he will work to persuade some of those more stubborn delegates to aid in a smooth convention.
Trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort, insisted that Cruz and Trump got along quite well for most of the primary season and that they will now.
As with all things Trump, however, there are conditions.
“Cruz will be a voice and a representative for the conservative movement that he has always championed and long been a leader of,” said Cruz spokeswoman Catherine Frazier. “Our country is facing enormous challenges, and conservatives should not shy away from defending the principles we believe in and charting a better path forward.”
Yet Trump’s team maintains the right to approve — and re-write — Cruz’s remarks in what is expected to be a carefully scripted convention. The speech will be among the week’s most closely watched moments.
The question now becomes just how much control over Cruz’s speech Trump expects to have and how much will Cruz be willing to give up? Trump is a diva, expecting this to be his coronation. He cares little about actual conservatism, or even the party, itself.
“Ted Cruz is going to come in as the de facto leader of the conservative movement — and probably have more delegates on the floor than any candidate, including Trump, that are truly committed to him,” said Saul Anuzis, a Cruz loyalist and Republican delegate.
“It is a brilliant move on Trump’s part to have him speak, because he needs the conservatives,” Anuzis said.
Unless Senator Cruz uses his speech to act as bait for hooking loyalty to Trump and tamping down any delegate revolt, the convention may look very different than what has been originally planned, and the backstage murmurings will be the stuff to fuel these RedState pages for weeks.