Why is Trump so chummy with Cruz?

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Author John Gaver and then candidate Ted Cruz
Author John Gaver and then Senate candidate Ted Cruz

Bias Statement: When writing about candidates, I believe that authors should include a bias statement, indicating the author’s possible bias. So here is mine. I campaigned for and voted for Ted Cruz for the U.S. Senate (see above photo). I think he has been an acceptable Senator. My choice for President is Mike Huckabee.

Many people were surprised to see Donald Trump being so chummy with Ted Cruz, at the recent CNN GOP Debate, only days after he suggested that Cruz is a “little bit of a maniac”. But, as with everything that Trump does, there is a method to the madness.

As this is being written, Ted Cruz is polling at a very distant second (less than half of Trump’s numbers) in the GOP Primary race. The RCP (Real Clear Politics) aggregate, going back almost three weeks, has Cruz at a mere 16.1% to Trump’s 33%. More recent polls, (Monmouth and ABC News/Washington Post/Langer Research) show Trump with even higher numbers and Cruz with even lower numbers. But despite this huge gap, the Cruz campaign and the media are trying desperately to paint the race for the GOP nomination, as still being up for grabs. Interestingly, even Trump is being nice to Cruz. This is obviously because he needs the continuing media coverage that having a viable challenger gives him. Carson is effectively out and Rubio is fading. So since Trump needs to be seen as having a viable challenger, Cruz suddenly becomes necessary to the Trump campaign.

As it turns out, Cruz is the ideal candidate for this role and the reason comes down to experience. Actually, any of several candidates would have worked. But Cruz is the survivor. Trump knows that, of all of the candidates on the GOP primary ballot, Cruz, Rubio, Paul, and Carson have, by far, the least executive management and budgetary experience, meaning that they will be easiest to defeat, as the primaries get closer. Rand Paul never had a chance, Ben Carson is in a nose-dive, and Marco Rubio is fading. That leaves Cruz. He is the one candidate that Trump knows he can most easily defeat, in a one-on-one race. Let’s look at why.

Here is Ted Cruz’s work history, since graduating from Harvard, with a JD (juris doctorate or law degree).

  • 1995: Graduated Harvard with JD
  • 1995: Law clerk to J. Michael Luttig, US Court of Appeals, 4th Circuit
  • 1996: Law clerk to Chief Justice William Rehnquist
  • 1997-98: Private law practice, Cooper, Carvin & Rosenthal
  • 1999-2003: Various positions in George W. Bush campaign and administration, incl. Domestic Policy Adviser, Associate Deputy Attorney General, Director of Policy Planning at the FTC
  • 2003-08: Texas Solicitor General
  • 2008-13: Private law practice, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius
  • 2013-Present: Texas U.S. Senator.

While this background paints a clear picture of a very gifted lawyer, there is nothing in Cruz’s background to even remotely suggest that he has even the slightest experience in Executive Management or in managing any kind of budget. In fact, some of the things that he has said on the campaign trail indicates a significant shortcoming in his understanding of economics. I’ll get to that in a few moments.

There is no doubt that Ted Cruz​ would make an excellent Supreme Court Justice or Attorney General. But nothing in his background suggests that he would have even the most rudimentary ability to manage a TRILLION DOLLAR BUDGET or be able to manage not just the 2,000+ staff in the Executive Office of the President (EOP), but the hundreds of thousands who work in the military and in the various agencies that report to the President. In fact, his total naiveté on economic issues is clearly displayed in his often repeated claim that his flat income tax plan would allow the IRS to be abolished. After all, it doesn’t take a mental giant or economics guru to figure out that, as long as income is taxed, there is no possible way that the IRS can be abolished or even substantially reduced in size. That is clearly shown in this 2.5 minute video. Yet, Ted Cruz continues to repeat this same easily disproved fallacy.

The Presidency is referred to as, “The Executive Branch” for a reason. It’s not a place for OJT (On-the-Job Training). We have seen, for the past 7 years, just what happens when we put a 1st term senator, with ZERO budgetary or executive management inexperience, in the White House. The job requires someone who has succeeded as an executive, either as a governor, mayor of a large city, or in the private sector. That’s NOT Senator Ted Cruz​ and that’s why Trump is suddenly being so nice to him.

Trump cannot afford to be seen as the clear winner too soon. If that happens, then it kills his momentum for the general election race. Trump is doing something that has never been done before. He announced in June, shot immediately to the top of the polls, and has stayed there. He has the momentum. But he needs to keep it. That means that he needs a way to stay in the news, at least through Super Tuesday and possibly beyond. The media knows that making it appear that Cruz is still a viable challenger will insure continued headlines and advertising revenue for them. Trump knows that those headlines will be about him, but only as long as Cruz (or another viable challenger) is in the race. Trump also knows that, as the convention approaches, Cruz will be the easiest of the remaining GOP candidates for him to defeat, due to Cruz’s total lack of executive management and budgetary experience.

Trump is not my favorite candidate. But you have to hand it to him. When it comes to campaigning and controlling the media, he has it all over the rest of the field – Republican and Democrat. I fully expect Trump to win the November election by the widest margin in history and I can think of a lot worse things than a President Trump. After all, if not for Trump, it’s very likely that we would have ended up with yet another Bush, another inexperienced, albeit well intentioned U.S. Senator, or an equally inexperienced and well intentioned neurosurgeon. Since it’s not likely that we will have a conservative and experienced governor, like Huckabee, Trump is a very acceptable alternative. By contrast, the idea of another inexperienced and economically naive 1st term senator in the White House is just plain scary, even if the letter after his name on the ballot happens to be different.

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