This shouldn’t be happening. The two Republican candidates with a shot at the presidential nomination, and who are closest in beliefs and concerns for America’s future, are at odds when they ought to be supporting one another.
That photo shows a more congenial time. It is no more. Earlier this month, I wrote a blog beseeching these two brothers in Christ to treat one another in the proper spirit. There is now a breach that may not be healed, and it hurts to watch it unfold.
I have friends on both sides in this campaign. I’m partial to Cruz myself, but Rubio is my senator; I enthusiastically voted for him and rejoiced to see slimy politician Charlie Crist go down in defeat when Rubio stunned the political world with his victory. In the current contest, I could vote for either with greater confidence than for anyone else still in the race.
That’s why this rupture in relationship is so disappointing.
It started in Iowa with the accusation that Cruz deliberately and falsely spread the word that Ben Carson had decided to end his campaign. Well, we know someone in the Cruz organization did send out that message, but Cruz has steadfastly denied knowing about it ahead of time or approving it.
Cruz has apologized for that twice publicly, as well as in a face-to-face meeting with Carson. Yet Carson still is unreconciled to what happened and Rubio then picked up his theme by also accusing Cruz of having stolen votes.
It came to a head in the last debate when Rubio, following up Donald Trump’s lead, declared that Cruz was a liar, although the point Cruz was making in that debate about Rubio’s stance on illegal immigration was a fair point.
Yesterday, it all boiled over when Rick Tyler, Cruz’s campaign spokesman, tweeted out false information about what Rubio said to Cruz’s father and another Cruz supporter. The false tweet had Rubio denigrating the Bible. I knew at once that couldn’t be true, and the real information showing he instead had praised the Bible finally came out.
Tyler apologized, but that wasn’t sufficient. Cruz dismissed him from the campaign—and rightly so. I now wonder if Tyler might not have been the one responsible for the Carson flap in Iowa. I know nothing about him personally, but I had been less than impressed with his manner in interviews, and even before this last blowup, I was wondering why he had been chosen to be the public face for the Cruz campaign.
I do believe Cruz has not adequately reined in some of his supporters. Hopefully, this action will rectify some of that. I also think Cruz tried too hard to create a distinction between his record and Rubio’s, particularly on the issue of pro-life. I have no doubts about Rubio’s strong pro-life stance.
Yet I truly don’t believe Cruz personally was behind what the Rubio people are stressing as “dirty tricks.” Neither do I believe that the Rubio camp can say it has completely clean hands, especially when Rubio and his spokesmen continue to denigrate Cruz’s character.
Frankly, I was stunned by the Rubio spokesman’s response to the firing of Tyler. I thought they would see this as a step by Cruz to get things under control. Instead, we get this:
Rick is a really good spokesman who had the unenviable task of working for a candidate willing to do or say anything to get elected. There is a culture in the Cruz campaign, from top to bottom, that no lie is too big and no trick too dirty. Rick did the right thing by apologizing to Marco. It’s high time for Ted Cruz to do the right thing and stop the lies.
What stunned me was that the perpetrator of the false information, Tyler, was praised in this response, while Cruz was berated as dirty and a liar. This reads like something right out of the Trump playbook.
While I am not pleased with some of the tactics I’ve witnessed from the Cruz team, I’ve not seen anything that deserves treatment as particularly “dirty” as compared to other campaigns. Whenever I’ve watched Cruz in his public manner, I have not seen a man who is full of hubris like Trump or nursing personal hurts in the way Rubio seems to be doing.
I’m more disappointed at the moment with Rubio, yet I deplore the lack of Christian spirit that has manifested itself on both sides at times. This breach needs to be healed. The future of the nation is at stake. Continuing in this unchristian way will only open the door for a Trump or Clinton presidency.
Both Cruz and Rubio need to go forward with a new spirit. I pray they will reach out to one another and find the place in their hearts where God wants them to be—for their sakes and for the sake of the country.
A spirit of humility, a willingness to forgive, and a commitment to speak truth only—that is the remedy.