In many ways, Donald Trump released his conservative SCOTUS list too late. Had he done it shortly after Ted Cruz and John Kasich dropped out, he could have cut off much of his opposition by demonstrating a willingness to look to the right on this important issue. Then again, he also released it too early and without enough fanfare. With nearly two months before the GOP convention, it would have gone a long way towards solidifying conservative credibility and getting the party pumped up had he waited a month longer.
His choice to do it in-between means that he still needs to lay down some conservative tidbits before the convention. He’s shifting left on nearly every issue. Some would call it preparation for his general election run as he panders to Independents and moderate Democrats. The problem is that he doesn’t have the buy-in from the right just yet. Sure, he has a plurality of votes that is quickly turning into a majority as many conservatives rally behind him as the non-Hillary choice, but to win in November he’s going to have to make a choice: does he shift back to the right and get a “sane” moderate as his running mate or does he embrace his liberal tendencies and tap a conservative for VP?
The second option is almost certainly the way that he’ll go. While many names are being floated as possible running mates, the two that stand out are Sarah Palin and Ted Cruz. Palin would seem to be the obvious choice since she’s stood by him from the beginning, but it would be a terrible move. She’s lost once and Trump doesn’t like losers. More importantly, she doesn’t represent the formation of a coalition; by picking from within his own camp, he’s creating a further divide between Constitutional conservatives and Trump Republicans.
Cruz is the best choice. By bringing Cruz into his camp, conservatives can feel like their voice is being heard. Cruz can hit the Christian right, Trump can hit the middle, and they could float to a victory in November.
It’s a ticket that I’d like to support, but I couldn’t. As a Cruz supporter, the notion of him being VP is somewhat appealing, but I’m reminded of the fact that the VP has very little real power. He’s the backup quarterback. He’s the secondary spokesman. He’s the guy you send to meet with foreign leaders when the Secretary of State is busy. He’s the attack dog during campaign season and he’ll have a project or two that he’ll be promoting at any given time. Otherwise, he has absolutely nothing to do with policy and is a symbolic leader at best.
Some would say that he could be the voice of conservative reason whispering into Trump’s ear. That’s a joke. Trump listens to nobody. At the end of the day, he does what he wants to do. His entire campaign and business life have demonstrated that.
Lastly, Cruz needs to be on the conservative team. Trump and Hillary are the opposition to conservatism. Ben Sasse, Mark Levin, Mike Lee, Erick Erickson – those who realize that Trump is a disaster to the GOP, conservatism, and the country need Cruz to be on their side of the #NeverTrump movement.
As I posted on Soshable, Cruz still has an opportunity to win the nomination if the right things fall into place. That needs to be his focus. He should not abandon that possibility, however minuscule it might be, in order to be on a ticket that could win but that would take the country down if it does.
Every Republican who attaches their names to the Trump train will fall off the edge with Trump when he fails. Either he’ll lose the election or he’ll win and fail as President. Neither scenario bodes well for the country. Somebody has to be there to pick up the pieces when it all falls apart.