After Loss, Cruz Works to Keep Supporters Engaged

by Patrick Svitek May 9, 2016:

Ted Cruz is not done with the Republican presidential race yet.

The Texas senator may have dropped out of the race last week, but he is working to ensure his supporters stay engaged through the Republican National Convention, where presumptive nominee Donald Trump will officially become the party’s standard-bearer two months from now in Cleveland.

In the days since the landslide loss in Indiana that triggered Cruz’s exit, his campaign has been reaching out to supportive delegates with an eye on giving them a say on convention rules and the GOP platform. Cruz’s campaign is also not letting up on its efforts to get loyalists elected in states that have not yet picked their delegates to Cleveland — including Texas, whose state GOP holds its convention Thursday through Saturday in Dallas.

“There’s an important process here that we need to continue, and that’s making sure the conservative movement continues,” said Robert Uithoven, who had served as western states regional political director for the Cruz campaign.

Cruz’s campaign believes he emerged from the presidential race as the undisputed national leader of the conservative movement, with a vast network of loyal supporters at his disposal. They don’t want to let it go to waste, especially with the GOP on the cusp of crowning a nominee who has bucked conservative orthodoxy on a variety of issues.
“Just look at what happened since Ted Cruz ended his campaign,” Uithoven said, alluding to Trump’s recent comments — many of them out of step with the GOP — on the debt and taxes. “It hasn’t even been a week yet, and there’s a number of red flags.”

Trump has alarmed Cruz supporters with his talk of changing the Republican platform in Cleveland, and the senator is moving to provide whatever safeguards he can against the possibility. It was reportedly a topic of conversation in conference call Monday night with delegates. The New York Times first reported the call would happen.

Cruz is also making efforts, like U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida did after he left the race, to hold on to his delegates in a number of states, a sign he may want to exercise some influence in Cleveland. In Texas, Cruz has sent the state GOP a letter asking that it not release the 104 delegates he earned in the March 1 primary, according to a spokesman for the party, Michael Joyce.

Since Cruz dropped out, he has kept a relatively low profile. He threw a party for his staff Wednesday night in Houston, and he was spotted over the weekend with his wife at the Kentucky Derby.

His campaign, meanwhile, has started to open up about what went wrong, blaming Ohio Gov. John Kasich for serving as an obstacle between Cruz and a one-on-one battle with Trump.

“From the beginning of this campaign, I always said that when this race got to a head-to-head matchup, Ted would emerge victorious,” campaign manager Jeff Roe wrote in an email Friday to supporters. “Due to some candidates remaining in the race — long after it became clear they had no viable path to victory — that one-on-one matchup never materialized, and the vote against Donald Trump was never able to fully consolidate around one single candidate.”

Cruz’s time out of the spotlight is likely to be short lived. He is expected to return to the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, then come home for the Texas GOP convention in Dallas — where he has a speaking slot Saturday afternoon, according to a schedule released Friday.