I am still processing the long-term fallout from Ted Cruz’s historic non-endorsement from last night. Internally, my responses oscillate between this was Cruz’s very public act of political suicide and it was an incredibly brilliant political set-up for 2020.
I will post a longer analysis once the 2016 Convention dust settles, but here are a couple of preliminary thoughts:
As I watched from a luxury private suite of Trump-supporters (shout out to an old college friend gave me a sweet suite pass), I was stunned that the endorsement wasn’t there. The perfect moment was there, at the end of the speech, and the audible never came. How this will affect Cruz moving forward is something we political scientists will be talking about for a very long time.
Cruz went quickly from hero to goat. As Blaze political editor (and my daughter) Leigh Munsil tweeted as the speech unfolded, “You could hear a pin drop in this arena right now.” Expectations in the convention hall soared and so did Cruz’s speech, as he powerfully insisted that “Freedom matters.” We all know how the evening ended for Cruz—with boos, being locked out of GOP money-man Sheldon Adelson’s luxury suite, Heidi Cruz leaving under armed escort, and devastating political analysis and vicious verbal attacks, continuing this morning in the Texas delegation and beyond.
On the upside: It very well may serve to shore-up young conservatives, who are particularly disenchanted with Donald Trump and his brand of politics. In this view, someone — finally — stood up to the Trump train.
On the downside: From my perspective, the most unfortunate aspect of the non-endorsement flap is losing sight of Cruz’s theme of freedom. I was excited and heartened as the speech theme of freedom unfolded. Finally. That is the message so glaringly missing this political cycle.
More on Cruz at a later time, but here are a few other thoughts from last night: I was sitting just a few feet away from where Donald Trump entered the convention floor as Cruz’s speech ended. As word of his entrance spread where I was sitting, the buzz was palpable. The media gaggle he attracts is mind-boggling. He is the epitome of celebrity—bigger than life, magnetic, a presence impossible to deny. As for his VP candidate, Mike Pence’s speech was absolutely terrific, especially the reminder that Hillary Clinton is the “Secretary of the Status Quo.” Great speech and solid delivery. In fact, the speech is being hailed as one of the best convention speeches ever by a VP candidate.
As for the final night of the convention, Day 4:
Ed Sullivan’s iconic introduction to his 1960s show captures it — “Tonight, we have a re-e-ally BIG SHEW!”
As a thorough-going political geek and convention newbie, I wouldn’t miss this for anything. I’m looking forward to this uniquely American show — the speeches, the videos, the patriotism and every last glorious bit of the hype.
But, most of all, I can’t wait to see the balloons.
Be sure to watch. And, I’ll be tweeting live @TracyMunsil throughout the evening.