Ted Cruz stopped by the Republican Party headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas, on Wednesday, working the phones to encourage potential GOP voters to come out and vote in next month’s presidential election — and defending his surprise endorsement of Donald Trump.
“I’ve made the decision that on Election Day I’m going to vote for the Republican nominee,” the Texas senator told reporters at the event. “Like a whole lot of voters here in Texas and across the country, this was not an easy decision for me to arrive on.”
During the Republican primary, Trump frequently referred to Cruz as “Lyin’ Ted,” insulted his wife and suggested that Cruz’s father was involved in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. At the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Cruz was booed when he gave a speech while declining to endorse his party’s nominee.
But Cruz, who ultimately endorsed Trump last month, insisted his endorsement has more to do with his commitment to the party — and to taking down Trump’s opponent — than anything else.
“A year ago, I stood onstage and promised to support the Republican nominee, whoever that was, and I am honoring my word,” Cruz said. “Although I have long had significant concerns with Donald, by any measure, Hillary Clinton would be an absolute disaster as president.”
“I’m working hard to keep Texas red, to defeat Hillary Clinton and also, critically, maintain the Republican majority in the Senate,” he continued. “That is my commitment, to do everything I can to keep a Republican majority in the Senate.”
In his phone calls to potential GOP voters, Cruz did not mention Trump by name. On social media, some mocked the footage of his phone-banking calls as another blow to Cruz’s pride.
— G.J. McCarthy (@gjmccarthy) October 5, 2016
“Hi, this is Ted Cruz calling,” he said while leaving a voicemail with one potential voter. “I’m encouraging you to come out and vote on Election Day. This election is critical for the direction of our country. And I urge you to come out and support freedom, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. You can vote by absentee ballot, and if you need help getting an application for an absentee ballot, the Republican Party of Texas can help you with that. Or you can vote in person. I just wanted to encourage you to come out and vote. Thank you, and God bless you.”
Cruz, who is not up for reelection until 2018, is throwing his support behind six GOP senators, including incumbents facing reelection.
“I’m encouraging conservatives to come out and vote — and vote for Republicans up and down the ticket,” he said. “Turnout matters. If turnout falls by a certain percentage among conservatives, that could wreak real damage.”