Ted Cruz and State Republicans Make Clear: This is Trump’s Texas Now

At the state GOP convention, Trump reigns supreme — and everyone knows it.

It was clear when Governor Greg Abbott bragged about being more powerful than Putin, and when he said that Texans had far more influence on Trump’s presidential victory than any Russians could have.

It was clear when Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick said, “Is [Trump] awesome or what?” and dubbed him the “Babe Ruth of presidents,” because “you just knock it out of the park every day.”

It was clear when Senator John Cornyn amended his 2008 “Big John” campaign video to include the text “Big Don, Big John” to play up his affinity for the president.

It was clear when every elected official in attendance at the Texas GOP convention tried to Trump up their speeches and when delegates cheered at the mere mention of the president’s name.

Most of all, it was clear when Senator Ted Cruz — two years separated from the last state party convention, in which his bitter presidential loss to Trump was front and center — gave a speech focused on what he says are the seven policy victories for Republicans under the Trump administration.

From tax cuts to repealing the Obamacare individual mandate, getting out of the Paris climate agreement and the Iran nuclear deal to moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, Cruz played up his influence and closeness with Trump. “I spent hours and hours making the case to the president that we need to get out [of the Iran deal] … and cut them out diplomatically,” he said.

Cruz’s fealty to Trump shone through, too, in the apocalyptic vision he painted for 2019 if Democrats take over either chamber of Congress. “On January 23, 2019, the day Speaker Pelosi is sworn in, is the day that impeachment proceedings begin,” Cruz said. “It’s the day that dozens of investigations open up in the House and into every federal cabinet agency. It’s the day that scores of subpoenas go out, all designed to cripple the federal government and end every one of these victories — to paralyze the administration for the next two years.”

Damn the fact that Trump’s administration is being swallowed up in a cloud of scandals, criminal investigations and constitutional incompetence. Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, George Soros, the mainstream media and Beto O’Rourke are all out to get the president, Cruz said.

ted cruz, elections
Cruz talks with a supporter after his speech in McGregor, Texas.  Justin Miller

Cruz’s position on Trump now is a stark contrast from his view at the state convention just two years ago. As the Dallas Morning News’ Todd Gillman reminds us, Cruz has made a 180-degree turn. He said then that “My commitment is to principle. To the common-sense conservative principles that built America. I am looking for a candidate who will defend those principles.” He also said, “I am not in the habit of supporting people who attack my wife and attack my father.”

Things have clearly changed. The Republican base in Texas loves Trump, and it’s quickly become politically toxic for GOP pols to do anything but genuflect to him.

After the Trump love-fest, Cruz went on to characterize his Democratic opponent, Congressman Beto O’Rourke, as an enemy of Trumpism: a Bernie-lovin’, pro-open borders, anti-gun, socialized-medicine-wantin’, tax-cut hatin’, left-wing loony. “In Texas, normally Democrats, when they run in the general election, they at least pretend to go to the middle. They pretend to be moderate,” Cruz said. “That’s not the case with my opponent, Congressman Beto O’Rourke. He is running hard left. He is running like Bernie Sanders.”

And with that, Cruz is heading back to Houston later today to play Hollywood liberal and late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel in a game of one-on-one basketball.

Justin Miller is the politics reporter for the Observer. He previously covered politics and policy for The American Prospect in Washington, D.C., and has also written for The Intercept, The New Republic and In These Times. Follow him on Twitter or at [email protected].

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Published at 3:20 pm CST
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