Cleveland – As a fairly typical Puerto Rican, I understand bad blood. Like the Irish of stereotypical lore,sometimes all we Latinos remember are the insults. And there is no doubt that Donald Trump grievously insulted Senator Ted Cruz during their bitter primary fight this past year.
Clearly, Cruz is neither willing to forget nor forgive.
“Lyin’ Ted” was a vicious put-down that hobbled the ambitious Texan at a key moment in the Republican presidential primary campaign. Like “Little Marco,” the withering Trump put-down that shrank the candidacy of Florida senator Marco Rubio, Cruz was stuck with the “Lyin’ Ted” label once Trump saddled it on the Harvard cowboy’s back.
Nobody in the hall bought the disingenuous double-dealing, self-serving stunt. The guy needed security just to get out of the arena. People averted their eyes when he and Heidi walked past.
Worse, Trump insulted Cruz’ wife Heidi, showing side-by-side pictures of the former Goldman Sachs executive, implying that she was not as easy on the eyes as his own drop-dead gorgeous Melania and implying the question too of which woman would red-blooded Americans prefer spending the next four or eight years looking at.
Trump also kicked sand in Cruz senior's face, picking up on an internet conspiracy theory that put Rafael Cruz in the middle of Lee Harvey Oswald’s supposedly Cuban-exile-inspired plot to assassinate John F. Kennedy in 1963. Since the senior Cruz is a deeply religious person, the preposterous assault hurt the clan deeply.
I could go on about Trump’s effective delegitimizing Cruz’s run for the White House with all the “Native Born” Canada jokes, but it should be enough that everyone can understand why the senator would carry deep loathing of the flamboyant, quick-triggered billionaire GOP nominee.
So why did Cruz accept Trump’s invitation of a coveted prime-time slot at the Republican National Convention here in Cleveland, only to refuse to endorse the man who invited him? It is like accepting an invitation to a hated rich guy’s party and then spitting or worse in his punchbowl in full view of all the other guests.
Watching it, I was appalled by the bad manners and totally agreed with the legion of hecklers who bombarded Cruz with a salvo of boos and catcalls. I get that by merely showing up and espousing conservative principles Cruz was trying to walk a tightrope that he thought might help his prospective 2020 presidential campaign. He fell off.
Nobody in the hall bought the disingenuous double-dealing, self-serving stunt. The guy needed security just to get out of the arena. People averted their eyes when he and Heidi walked past. Then he was shunned by VIPs in the hallway of the arena and was barred from entering the luxury suite of GOP power broker, Las Vegas Casino owner and mega donor Sheldon Adelson.
His former rival and now Trump acolyte New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was apoplectic, sputtering how Cruz’s speech was “awful” and “selfish” as he reminded everyone how Cruz like all the GOP contenders had signed a pledge to accept the winner of the nominating process.
Of course, Gov. Christie did not mention his own tepid endorsement of Mitt Romney in 2012 or his infamous gushy embrace of President Barack Obama in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
Candidate Trump claimed later that he found out that Cruz was not going to endorse him two hours ahead of time, but decided to let him speak anyway, maybe hoping Cruz would slip in a sentence or two of magnanimity. Something modest like, “So let’s all turn out to vote in November. I know I will and I’ll be voting for Donald Trump.” Never happened.
My personal pique came when Cruz, one of the nation’s highest-ever-ranking Latinos, enthusiastically endorsed the “Great Wall of Trump.” But whatever his Machiavellian maneuvering, what Cruz forgot is what people remember. Sometimes we forget praise, but insultos, never.