That comes on top of Senator Lindsey Graham’s begrudging pick of Cruz over Donald Trump, something he likened to the choice “between being shot or poisoned.” The only person to actually endorse with positive words has been Utah’s Mike Lee and that was only after Florida Senator Marco Rubio, for whom he’d also campaigned, dropped out of the race.
The Washington Establishment isn’t exactly racing the endorse Cruz — even as he represents the last best hope at stopping Trump. For many Senators, Cruz is the devil they know and Trump is the devil they don’t. The Senate is split, most write off the White House with either a Trump or Cruz nomination but many worry about the down ballot damage Trump would do and there are many steps left between now and the convention before anything is totally clear.
Depriving Trump of the nomination could be difficult, barring a Lindsey Lohan–esque descent into incredulity that would lose him all but his most ardent of fans (not out of the realm of possibility given the past two weeks). Texas Senator John Cornyn warned a group of Republican Senators a few weeks ago that “voters are upset” and if the Establishment is seen “undercutting their will, that could be a powder keg.” Members of Congress are keenly aware that approval of their branch of the government remains near all-time lows and they don’t want to be seen subverting the will of the people, even if it means allowing Trump to snag the nomination.
The question is, which one would do less lasting damage? Many Establishment Republicans express concerns like Graham’s about Trump’s down-ballot effects. Some political prognosticators have even predicted that a Trump nomination might even throw the House into play, so deep is his unpopularity with groups like women, Hispanics and African Americans.
On Wednesday, Idaho Senator Jim Risch became the third Senator to endorse his colleague Ted Cruz for the GOP nomination — sort of. Risch was on CNN saying Cruz is the best of the bunch. Host Wolf Blitzer asked if that was an endorsement.