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Ted’s the Ticket

My latest column at The Week is all about how Ted Cruz is going to be Veep.

If Trump’s the nominee:

Trump is clearly going to get the nomination, who might carry on the fight to Cleveland for some purpose beyond spite?

Only Ted Cruz —because he’s positioned as a conviction candidate (the one true keeper of the constitutional conservative flame), because he’ll have demonstrated the ability to win at least occasionally outside of his home state, and because he’s not dependent on establishment support to continue (and so won’t have to worry about funding drying up if the establishment decides to make peace with the inevitable).

Cruz could fight to the end, picking up delegates in states that divide them proportionally (Utah, New York, Oregon, Washington, New Mexico), and roll into Cleveland with the largest klatch of non-Trump delegates and a legitimate claim to represent the faction of the party — “very conservative” voters — whom Trump most needs to mollify.

And what better way to mollify them than by putting Ted on the ticket?

If there’s a contested convention where Trump has the most delegates:

[C]oming into a contested convention, [Cruz would] have three very strong arguments to make for his inclusion on the ticket, no matter who’s at the top.

First, he would have demonstrated national support for himself as the only trusted tribune of conservative voters, people the party simply can’t afford to ignore.

Second, he and Trump together would have demonstrated the need for a ticket that reached outside the establishment; ignoring both of them in favor of a traditional ticket would risk a complete collapse in support for the party in the general election.

And, third… he could threaten that if he isn’t offered the vice presidency, his delegates will vote for Trump on the second ballot. Which, depending on how the rest of the race plays out, might well be enough to put Trump over the top.

And if there’s a contested convention after Rubio has managed to secure a plurality of delegates:

Who does Rubio need to placate, so he has a chance on the second ballot?

Not the GOP establishment. If Rubio’s lost their support, he hasn’t a prayer — the second ballot is going to go to somebody who didn’t run at all. They should be able to deliver Kasich’s delegates — and if Rubio has a plurality, then Kasich can’t have many of those at all.

Not Trump. What does he have to offer — the VP slot? A cabinet post? A prime time speaking slot? Get serious.

Ted Cruz, on the other hand — him, he’d have something to offer. And if Cruz has a significant delegate haul, he’d have something very valuable to offer in exchange.

The bottom line:

[Cruz] doesn’t owe the party anything — every delegate he got, he got on his own. His voters are primed to expect betrayal by the party establishment, and have already shown a willingness to believe Cruz if he says they are being betrayed. And his entire history in the Senate is one of refusing to take orders. If he makes threats, they are credible.

And as long as he keeps winning delegates, his leverage increases.

So why would he drop out of the race to pave the way for a more electable nominee?

Yeah, it’s a bit House of Cards-y, but that kind of suits Cruz. And honestly, if Cruz were my number two? I’d keep a food taster handy.

about the author

Noah Millman, senior editor, is an opinion journalist, critic, screenwriter, and filmmaker who joined The American Conservative in 2012. Prior to joining TAC, he was a regular blogger at The American Scene. Millman’s work has also appeared in The New York Times Book Review, The Week, Politico, First Things, Commentary, and on The Economist’s online blogs. He lives in Brooklyn.

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