Now, the context is that vote your conscience, I know, happens to be a rallying cry for many of the Never Trumpers. And further context is that vote your conscience could be code language for how in the world can you possibly vote for this guy Trump if you have a conscience? And it’s obviously, I think, what a lot of people thought Cruz meant, and that’s why the boos. But just without any context, somebody says vote your conscience and gets booed.
Here’s where I think Cruz could have done better. And, look, armchair quarterbacking, morning-after hindsight’s always cheap and easy, but I think it’s an important point. Last night Cruz complained that freedom was under assault. And he’s right. It wasn’t a complaint; it was a warning; it was an acknowledgment. But what he didn’t do is make the clear difference that a Clinton and Trump presidency would make to freedom itself and to the Constitution itself.
It wasn’t until this morning, under intense questioning from the Texas delegation that Cruz said he wasn’t gonna vote for Hillary. He didn’t say that last night. He left it for implication, or inference. I think had he drawn this comparison, he acknowledged that there’s no contest between Trump and Hillary when it comes to voting to preserve and expand freedom, he didn’t explicitly do that. Hillary Clinton’s a clear and present danger to the Constitution. And Cruz, a lot of speakers made the point last night, but Cruz didn’t. Not expressly.
RUSH: Now, Cruz was asked about his pledge. They all took the pledge on the same stage last August to support the eventually nominee. And they asked Cruz about that, the Texas delegation. And he said that that day was “abrogated” when this became personal. “The day that pledge was abrogated was the day this became personal.” He says, “I’m not gonna get into criticizing or attacking Donald Trump, but I’m just going to give you this response.
“I am not in the habit of supporting people who attack my wife and attack my father.” And he mentioned this a couple of other times and used the words, “I’m not gonna be a puppy dog here in servitude to a guy accuses my dad of assisting in the JFK assassination.” And again, in saying that, it just takes everything that Cruz said the night before in his speech off the table. We eventually got the big reveal.
Everybody said, “Gee, what’s that? What’s going on? What the hell here?”
All this in-depth analysis, and it boils down to that.
Some of the in-depth analysis was, you know, there’s a lot of Never Trumpers out there, and the Never Trumpers, they’re a loyal bunch, and Cruz wants to be considered the leader. Cruz wants to be the guy. He wants to be the guy that’s considered the number one, consistent Never Trumper. And that’s who he was playing to last night, at the expense of party loyalty. The Texas delegation was not happy.
I’ll tell you something. I got emails last night from dyed-in-the-wool Cruz supporters who were the same people that were emailing me before the night began. “Do you think Cruz is gonna endorse?” That was a big topic all day yesterday. “Is Cruz gonna endorse? Is Cruz gonna endorse?” I kind of pooh-poohed it during the day yesterday because it just wasn’t one of those things — in the big scheme — that was gonna matter much to me in the long term of Trump winning.
Does he need Cruz’s endorsement to win? It just never struck me as being something that was crucial. It more amazed me that it became part of the soap opera coverage of the day. “Will Cruz endorse? Will he not endorse?” It turns out everybody knew he wasn’t going to. He knew he wasn’t going to. The Trump people knew he wasn’t going to. So people beforehand are very, very curious. Some are hoping he wouldn’t; some are hoping he would.
But when it was over, it was universal. All these Cruz fans that I know sent me emails, and it was universal. “He just destroyed his career tonight,” or, “His career is over. I don’t know how he comes back from this.” I mean, I was hearing it from… Folks, he’s too young and there’s too much life ahead, and every aspect of the future is unknown. And it’s just too… It’s really way too limiting to say that somebody’s career is over. You just don’t know.
Richard Nixon? How many times did they say that about Richard Nixon? At least four times. And then Nixon met Roger Ailes and did one of the first-ever candidate town halls in the round on primetime on a Saturday night. And for the first time in Nixon’s career, the country actually got to know him one on one. This is back in the day when there wasn’t cable TV, 24/7 news. It was just the three networks, and they all hated Nixon.
That appearance that Ailes arranged and produced was not the only thing, but it was a crucial element in Nixon coming back from what many people thought was the end of him. I mean, they tried to cream Nixon after he defeated Helen Gahagan Douglas. They hated him for doing that. They hated him for Alger Hiss, exposing Hiss. Oh, they still hate Nixon. They hate Nixon in the grave for exposing Alger Hiss as a communist spy. He was; Nixon proved it.
They hated him. I mean, they go to their graves hating Nixon over Alger Hiss. They eventually got him, too, in Watergate. But he did come back. So he lost the governor’s race. That was it. “He’s toast. It’s over.” And after his debate performance with JFK in ’60? “Ah, the guy sweats! You see his nose, the mustache? He’s sweating like crazy! He looks terrible on TV. He looks swarthy, looks like some guy in the mob. You can’t win the presidency looking like that!”
That was a Don Hewitt, pre-60 Minutes production. They were mopping the sweat off Kennedy all night but letting it accrue on Nixon. Kennedy got makeup; Nixon didn’t. Nobody knew. It’s 1960, black-and-white TV, who knew? Well, CBS knew, and they didn’t share what they knew with Nixon. So he came back from a lot. Here’s George in San Antonio, Texas, as we get started on the phones. Great to have you, George. Hi.
CALLER: Vietnam veteran dittos, Rush. I just wanted to say, “I was a Cruz guy; I still am a Cruz guy.” But I’m greatly disappointed in his choice not to support Mr. Trump. I think if it wasn’t for Trump, you know, we would have Jeb Bush as our nominee right now. And for Trump to be in, I think he took all the heat from all the other candidates and allowed Ted to stay as long as he did. And the things he said about —
RUSH: Let me ask… Whoa, whoa. Are you suggesting, are you saying — I just want to make sure I don’t misunderstand you —
CALLER: Yes, sir.
RUSH: — that Cruz maybe owes Trump a little gratitude for being in the race and sustaining the Cruz campaign awhile?
CALLER: Yes, sir.
CALLER: I do believe that. I believe that Trump took all the heat from many of the candidates, and Ted did the better job of the remaining candidates. But because of Trump, many remained. He could absorb the hits.
RUSH: Well, don’t forget, too — I’m sure you remember this — the first few months of the campaign, Cruz was one of the few that didn’t rip into Trump.
RUSH: ‘Cause Cruz was of the belief, like many others, that Trump was gonna implode at some point, and he wanted inherit Trump’s supporters. So he wasn’t criticizing him.
CALLER: But, see, Trump is a street fighter. He will do what he needs to do to win. His attacks on Ted were the personal. Although they were were distractions because he was the last man standing, and Trump had to get rid of him. And it truly wasn’t anything personal, I don’t believe.
RUSH: Ted sure took it personally.
CALLER: Well, it’s easy to do, but it is a blood sport. If you’re gonna get in, if you’re gonna run with the big dogs, you’re gonna run with them or stay on the porch.
RUSH: I understand and you’re right, and it’s easy for people to say. It’s easy to say from the sidelines. Don’t misunderstand me, George. You’re a Vietnam vet. You’ve taken bullets. You’ve taken the fire. So I’m not impugning you here. It’s hard not to take things like that personally, is the point. It takes a concerted effort let that stuff bounce off and tell yourself it isn’t personal, because while that’s happening, all of your enemies are just enjoying the hell out of it.
The Drive-By Media? Every personal assault on Cruz, the media and half the Republican Party is amplifying it and applauding it. And nobody wants to be hated. Nobody. Well, maybe there are a couple of exceptions in world history. But Cruz doesn’t want to be hated, but it’s something that you have to work hard not to take things like that personally. And we’ve learned now that it’s been rubbing him raw ever since it happened. And explains almost everything. I appreciate the call George, very much.
Robert in Hesperia or “Hezperia” or “Hysteria,” whatever, California. Great to have you on the program. Hi.
CALLER: Hello, Rush.
CALLER: I just wanted to make the point that a week ago when Bernie Sanders endorsed Hillary Clinton, everybody was making fun of him after what happened during the campaign. And I cited Cruz for his integrity and principles. And I still respect him for not directly endorsing Trump after what happened.
RUSH: So you’re not mad at Cruz?
CALLER: No. He stood by his principles. I believe he supported him. He cited his policies in his speech. He just… His only fault was not directly endorsing him.
RUSH: Well, obviously Cruz concluded — I think long ago — that there was no way that his character and his principles would ever allow him to come out and say, “I endorse Donald Trump,” and do a speech like everybody else has been doing, talking about Trump as the greatest thing since sliced bread. Cruz long ago knew he could never do it, and he’s not gonna lie to himself. He’s not gonna be a phony, and he’s not gonna go out there and try to fake it.
So we got what we got last night, is called standing on principle, and it’s always a great thing to stand on principle. Sometimes you can take it a little far, maybe choose the wrong place for it. Don’t know. We’ll find out. It’s a little too soon to say that Cruz crash-landed his career last night. Well, he may have crash landed, but we don’t know yet long term what the real effect on his overall career is going to be. Now, as for Bernie Sanders, Bernie did two things.
He had that joint appearance with Hillary where he endorsed her, and then the next day or two days later he went out and did another personal appearance, and did not mention her name once. The media pointed that out and tried to make a big deal out of that. Look, while all this is going on, Mrs. Clinton is trying to score big points with Cruz’s phrase “vote your conscience.” The Hillary campaign is already out with mailers and fundraising and emails and ads that say, “Vote your conscience means vote for Hillary,” and that that’s what Ted Cruz was saying.
She’s already on that cycle.