Everyone is conspiring against Ted Cruz to prevent him from winning the Republican presidential nomination, at least according to Ted Cruz. The Texas senator, currently running second to Donald Trump in the GOP primary, gave a testy interview that aired on Meet the Press Sunday morning, in which he treated established facts like enemy propaganda and asserted the existence of a vast media conspiracy against him.
Not long into the discussion, which was recorded on Friday, moderator Chuck Todd, asked Cruz to address what has become a serious problem for his campaign.
“I want to go to your struggles in uniting the party around you. In fact, this is what your now running mate--”
Here Cruz interrupted, sarcastically saying “Tell me what you really think, Chuck.”
The implication was plain: Todd was editorializing. Except that he wasn’t. Cruz’s problems with the members of his party who don’t share his doctrinaire conservatism and Christian fundamentalism are legion and are well-documented. His inability to conjure more than a handful of (mostly tepid) endorsements from his fellow lawmakers -- even with Donald Trump as the only viable alternative at this point in the race -- points to a real trouble spot for his candidacy.
In Cruz’s formulation of reality, though, that is all just motivated speculation from a news media that can’t be trusted.
Even in the face of blistering criticism from former Speaker of the House John Boehner, who last week called Cruz “Lucifer in the Flesh” and “the most miserable son of a bitch I have ever worked with,” Cruz not only contended that Boehner’s complaints had no justification, but suggested they might be motivated by Boehner’s own ambitions. “I saw those comments and kinda thought Boehner was auditioning to be Trump's VP candidate,” he said.
When Todd began an epic (and ultimately unsuccessful) struggle to get Cruz to simply say whether or not he would support Trump if the billionaire ultimately won the endorsement, the senator turned a fairly straightforward question into another allegation of bias against him.
“I recognize that-- that many in the media would love for me to surrender to Donald Trump,” he said.
Todd, of course, had said nothing about surrender, but in the face or Cruz’s insistence was forced to add, “It's about the numbers. He may win. Republican voters are the ones rejecting you, this is not a media conspiracy, Senator.”
But in Cruz’s eyes, the campaign has been just that.
He went on to spin out in great detail the story he has been telling supporters at his rallies for weeks. The national television networks, which presumably earned tens of millions of dollars selling advertising during the dozen debates held earlier in the contest, he said, but are now protecting Trump by refusing to accommodate Cruz’s demand that more debates be added to the schedule.
“You know what's interesting, Chuck? It's been now 49 days since we've had a Republican debate,” Cruz said. “Donald can't answer questions about his foreign policy. He can't answer questions about how you bring jobs back to this country and won’t debate.”
“Even though the media stands to make millions of dollars off of the debate, you hear radio silence from the media about no debates,” Cruz continued. “They're giving up millions of dollars. And the reason is your network's executives are partisan Democrats.”
Cruz conveniently left out the fact that all 12 of the debates held earlier in the campaign were sanctioned in advance by the Republican National Committee which, among other things, wanted to avoid the circus atmosphere that the 20 debates in the 2012 cycle produced.
Cruz also neglected to mention that the primary election debate schedule was worked out in cooperation with the candidates -- including Ted Cruz.
Todd pushed back against the notion that the media is actively trying to swing the nomination to Trump in order to advance the cause of Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton, but Cruz wasn’t done.
When Todd tried one final time to get him to say whether or not he would support Trump if the New Yorker win the nomination, Cruz accused him of personally trying to boost Trump.
He would not answer the question Cruz said, but added that Todd was free to keep asking. “You’re welcome to lobby for support for Trump as much as possible,” he said.