In the heat of the Republican primary battle, Ted Cruz called Donald Trump a “pathological liar,” “narcissist” and “utterly amoral.”
In turn, Trump tagged Cruz “Lyin’ Ted” and suggested that his father, Rafael Cruz, had a hand in the Kennedy assassination.
Cruz on Wednesday is expected to shelve that bad blood, at least temporarily, and take the stage at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland for one of the most anticipated speeches of the event.
Cruz, runner-up in the Republican primary contest, is one of the highest-profile GOP personalities to speak at the convention, though he has not revealed what he’ll talk about. Observers will be watching closely to see if he offers a direct endorsement of his former foe — which he has withheld since ending his campaign in May — or uses the big stage to advance his own political ambitions and an anticipated second run for the White House in the future.
“Is this going to be a Ted Cruz saying, ‘Thank you to all my delegates, and by the way, I hate Hillary Clinton’?” said Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics. “Or is he going to say, ‘Ladies and gentleman, given the choices, we’re going to have to stand with Donald Trump.’ It will matter.”
Cruz’s speech comes at a time when the Republican Party faces serious chasms between pro- and anti-Trump factions. Former presidents and party stalwarts George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney and Ohio Gov. John Kasich have chosen to skip the Cleveland gathering.
On Monday, a group of delegates attempted to force a roll call vote on the convention rules, leading to shouting matches on the floor of Quicken Loans Arena between Trump detractors and his supporters.
A ringing endorsement from Cruz could go a long way toward unifying the party, much the way Ronald Reagan threw his support behind rival Gerald Ford in a dramatic turn at the 1976 GOP convention, said Mark Jones, a political scientist at Rice University in Houston. Then, Reagan walked over to Ford at Kemper Arena in Kansas City, shook hands with the president and gave a stirring speech supporting his former foe.