US Elections 2016

Cruz decides to back former rival Trump

Mr Cruz (right) and Mr Trump at a Republican presidential candidate debate. The primary campaign was a bitter one, and the senator had even refused to endorse Mr Trump at the Republican National Convention.
Mr Cruz (right) and Mr Trump at a Republican presidential candidate debate. The primary campaign was a bitter one, and the senator had even refused to endorse Mr Trump at the Republican National Convention.PHOTO: REUTERS

Texas senator's decision a dramatic U-turn regarding a man he had called 'utterly amoral'

WASHINGTON • Two months after his refusal to endorse Mr Donald Trump's presidential candidacy prompted outrage at the Republican National Convention, Senator Ted Cruz said he would vote for his former bitter primary rival.

"After many months of careful consideration, of prayer and searching my own conscience, I have decided that on Election Day, I will vote for the Republican nominee, Donald Trump," the Texas senator wrote in a statement posted on Facebook last Friday.

"A year ago, I pledged to endorse the Republican nominee, and I am honouring that commitment," he added. "And if you don't want to see a Hillary Clinton presidency, I encourage you to vote for him."

Mr Cruz's backing now could help Mr Trump shore up support from Republicans who have long suspected the candidate's conservative credentials, including the evangelical voters who form the core of Mr Cruz's electorate.

His move represents a dramatic turnaround after a primary campaign during which the two candidates traded increasingly personal insults.

At the nadir of their confrontation, Mr Trump tweeted an unflattering picture of Mrs Cruz next to a photo of his own former model wife Melania, along with the text, "The images are worth a thousand words."

Positioning himself as the true conservative alternative to Mr Trump, Mr Cruz responded by calling the real estate billionaire "utterly amoral" and "a narcissist at a level I don't think this country's ever seen".

He dropped out of the primary race in May.

During the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, when many expected him to endorse Mr Trump, he told delegates instead to "stand and speak and vote your conscience" amid boos from the convention floor.

Mr Trump responded to Mr Cruz's endorsement - three days before Mr Trump's crucial first debate with Democratic nominee Clinton - saying he was "greatly honoured".

"We have fought the battle and he was a tough and brilliant opponent," the Republican nominee said in a statement.

"I look forward to working with him for many years to come in order to make America great again."

Mr Cruz's backing comes after the two camps showed some signs of reconciliation. Mr Trump's running mate Mike Pence spoke with Mr Cruz several times in recent weeks and Mr Trump has hired several Cruz allies, including Ms Kellyanne Conway to be his campaign manager.

The endorsement may also be calculated to help Mr Cruz's chances for re-election in 2018.

He faces a possible Senate primary challenge from Texas Representative Michael McCaul, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 25, 2016, with the headline 'Cruz decides to back former rival Trump'. Print Edition | Subscribe