Ted Cruz is a provocateur — a divider, not a uniter, someone whose political career is characterized by the challenges he poses to the leaders of his own party.
On Wednesday night, in a jaw-dropping speech that led to the longest and loudest set of boos I’ve ever heard for a speaker at any convention, Cruz sought to do to Donald Trump what he has done to Mitch McConnell — the Republican Senate leader against whom he has set himself from the moment he came to Washington in 2012.
He was setting himself up either as the internal GOP critic for a Trump presidency or the voice of conscience for a GOP trying to repair itself after a Trump defeat.
In this case, he intended to offer his challenge subtly — through a text that did not explicitly endorse Trump and instead called for “leaders who stand for principle. Unite us all behind shared values. Cast aside anger for love. That is the standard we should expect, from everybody.”
Subtle it may have been, but not subtle enough to evade the rage of the Trump campaign. Evidence suggests the Trump camp had decided it was going to punish Cruz for this impertinence.
After Cruz spoke those sentences, the New York delegation began to yell at Cruz from the floor — demanding an explicit endorsement of the candidate. It is highly unlikely such a thing happened without direction from the Trump campaign.