Two months after his refusal to endorse Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy prompted outrage at the Republican National Convention, Senator Ted Cruz said Friday that he would vote for his former bitter primary rival, prompting the billionaire businessman to claim he’s “greatly honored” to receive the “endorsement.”
“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.
In his statement, Cruz cited two reasons for his shift: his pledge to support the party nominee and his disdain for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
“A year ago, I pledged to endorse the Republican nominee, and I am honoring that commitment,” he added. “And if you don’t want to see a Hillary Clinton presidency, I encourage you to vote for him.”
Cruz’s statement signaled an effort to help unite a divided GOP less than seven weeks before Election Day. He also might be seeking to placate those he angered when he encouraged Republicans to “vote your conscience” instead of endorsing Trump outright at the national convention.
Furthermore, he has faced intensifying political pressure from all quarters. Since the convention speech, polls have suggested that Cruz’s popularity was slipping nationally and in Texas — where he could face a primary challenger for re-election in 2018.
Despite his different motives, Trump described the senator’s statement as an “endorsement,” although he had claimed immediately after the convention that he didn’t want it.
“I am greatly honored by the endorsement of Sen. Cruz,” Trump said. “We have fought the battle and he was a tough and brilliant opponent. I look forward to working with him for many years to come in order to make America great again.”
Cruz’s move represents a dramatic turnaround after a primary campaign during which the two candidates traded increasingly personal insults.
Dismissing Cruz’s early overtures, Trump had attacked the senator, dubbing him “Lyin’ Ted” and suggesting he wasn’t eligible to be president because he was born in Canada (most experts say that he was eligible since his mother was American).