Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said in an interview published Wednesday that he was not invited to speak at the Republican National Convention this year, but “would have been happy to do so” if asked.
“They didn’t ask me to participate,” Cruz told The New York Times. “So, I’m not on the speakers’ roster.”
Cruz was engaged in a bitter rivalry with then-GOP candidate Donald Trump during the 2016 Republican primary. (Before dropping out of the race, Cruz excoriated Trump as a “pathological liar” and “serial philanderer; for his part, Trump had suggested more than once that Cruz’s father was involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy).
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Though he spoke at the Cleveland convention four years ago and congratulated Trump on “winning the nomination,” he conspicuously did not endorse his one-time competitor, leaving the stage to boos and heckles.
“Vote your conscience,” Cruz said at the time. “Vote for candidates up and down the ticket who you trust to defend our freedom and to be faithful to the Constitution.”
Cruz eventually endorsed Trump in September, two months after the convention, citing his pledge to appoint conservative judges.
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He struck a different note on Wednesday, lauding the Trump administration for the “remarkable policy successes” of the last four years, including the 2017 tax overhaul, deregulation and the “historic economic boom” before the coronavirus pandemic started.
Still, a former aide for the Republican senator, Amanda Carpenter, suggested it could be savvy for Cruz to stay out of the political fray.
“I think the smart money is to lay low and see how this shakes out,” Carpenter, who has opposed Trump, said. “It is a huge risk for speakers to try to hitch their star to Trump in this moment.”
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