Trump wasn’t blameless (don’t act surprised). He suggested Cruz’s wife was unattractive, that Cruz hid behind religion and that Cruz’s father might have been involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy. (Yes, all of that really happened.)
The two Republicans eventually made up — largely because Cruz bent over backward to make nice with Trump because he wanted to run for president again someday and knew that he couldn’t do that if he was a sworn enemy of the former President.
Well, someday is now — as evidenced by Cruz’s trip to New Hampshire this week to stump for House candidate Karoline Leavitt, who is running in a Republican primary in the state’s 1st District.
While visiting the early presidential primary state, Cruz said something strikingly honest about both his ambitions and the broader state of the 2024 Republican race.
And he added this:
“I don’t know what Trump’s going to decide — nobody does. Anybody who tells you they do is making things up. The whole world will change depending on what Donald Trump decides. That’s true for every candidate. That’s true of every potential candidate.”
That is 100% right.
Which doesn’t mean that no one will run against him if he launches a campaign. I could see former Vice President Mike Pence, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and even Cruz getting into a race with Trump. (It goes without saying all of those people would be for sure in the mix if Trump shocks the world and decides against running again.)
But the truth that Cruz exposes is that Trump remains the prime mover in Republican presidential politics. All roads lead to him and his eventual go/no go decision. And until he makes it, the race doesn’t really start for any other Republican.