CLEVELAND ― A close Donald Trump associate suggested on Thursday morning that the Republican nominee may put his extensive political capital behind boosting a primary challenger to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in 2018.
In characteristically colorful and biting terms, Roger Stone harshly criticized Cruz for his much-discussed convention speech the night before, in which he declined to endorse Trump. Calling the senator “an odious, greasy figure who doesn’t have any of Reagan’s warmth or likeability,” Stone said that Cruz had jeopardized his future run for the White House.
“Conservatives have long memories,” said Stone. “So in four years or eight years after the Trump presidency, conservatives will remember that he walked out on us.”
But the threats didn’t end there. Making his way through radio row, where he took turns denouncing the Texas Republican for various local listening audiences, Stone hinted that Trump would try and prop up an opponent to Cruz when he runs again for the Senate in 2018.
“Who knows, maybe Trump will endorse a Republican primary opponent for him in Texas, because there is a lot of talk among conservatives in Texas today about a primary for Ted,” Stone said. “This was a giant miscalculation. He could have set himself up and had the warm support of Trump supporters in some future bid. Instead he is a pariah in this party.”
For the most part, Trump’s camp has been angry with Cruz for his speech, but not to the point of being openly vindictive. Stone, with his penchant for political gamesmanship, has upped the drama a notch by suggesting that there could be retribution for Wednesday night.
Cruz certainly must have suspected this would come when he encouraged attendees to vote their conscience in November. The senator wrote the speech himself, cleared it with the Trump campaign, and defended it the next morning during a meeting with Texas delegates.
Those delegates ― who could very well affect the GOP Senate primary fight in 2018 ― seem torn on the senator’s move.
A number of them could be overheard outside the convention arena on Wednesday night openly musing about their desire to rid themselves of him. But others were more livid at Trump, who they felt had deliberately tried to embarrass Cruz by whipping up boos in the crowd and timing his entry into the hall to stomp on Cruz’s address.
“Trump walking into the arena proved that he is a classless individual, OK?” said Jeremiah Hunter, a delegate from Longview, Texas. “Because he stole the thunder from Ted Cruz right when he was ending his speech. That’s classless. It was deliberate and anyone who thinks it’s not deliberate is delusional.”