Ted Cruz is no better than Donald Trump

Republicans endorsing Cruz say he can beat Trump but don’t say whether they think he’d be a good president.
Republicans endorsing Cruz say he can beat Trump but don’t say whether they think he’d be a good president. Getty Images

How can things get worse for Republicans? Jeb Bush turned out to be a terrible candidate. Marco Rubio turned out to be an annoying twit. Donald Trump is a nightmare. Something had to be done, and so the moderate elite decided the best strategy was to rally around … Ted Cruz.

Welcome to worse.

They were terrified of Trump, whose short list of foreign policy advisers includes a 2009 college graduate with a résumé that boasts he took part in a Model United Nations. Far better to nominate Cruz, whose list includes a guy who wrote an opinion piece suggesting President Barack Obama is a Muslim, and a woman who thinks Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s judgment about communists in the federal government was “spot on.”

They thought Trump would be such an unpopular nominee that the party would face a historic disaster in November. Obviously, the way to improve chances was to support the most actively disliked Republican politician in America.

Our question for today is, Why aren’t people rallying around John Kasich? The Ohio governor is the other Trump alternative, the sanest member of the trio.

Sen. Lindsey Graham started the trend of people who loathe Ted Cruz endorsing him to be president of the United States. Mitt Romney, who announced he’d be voting for Cruz in Utah, made it clear that he likes Kasich. But he said Cruz had a better chance of denying Trump the nomination.

Romney wanted to make sure he could strike a blow against Trump’s “bigotry” and “xenophobia.” So he supported Cruz, who called for police patrols in American Muslim neighborhoods “before they become radicalized.”

The official Republican world now contains people who took a dive and endorsed Trump, the ones who’ve endorsed Cruz and pretended it was a profile in courage, and the ones still sitting on the fence.

Wouldn’t you think a few would just say, “Look, I know Kasich is behind in delegates, but he behaves in the way I want our party to be.” But so far, the list of people who’ve gone there is pretty much confined to one ex-governor.

This week Trump and Cruz had a fight about their wives. An anti-Trump super PAC circulated an old picture of Melania Trump from GQ, posing more or less nude, with the message: “Meet Melania Trump. Your next first lady. Or, you could support Ted Cruz on Tuesday.”

Candidates don’t control political action committees, but the Cruz campaign does have a history of dirty tricks, so you could imagine even a less lunatic person than Trump getting angry. Then Trump threatened to “spill the beans” on Heidi Cruz. Leave the families alone! What this country needs is a bean-free election.

Or at least candidates who can talk about terrorism without being terrifying. After the Brussels bombing, Cruz called for those police patrols. Trump hyperventilated about waterboarding. Kasich issued a statement about international cooperation in the war against terror. You’d think that would have moved somebody.

But no. “Friend – I wanted you to be the first to know that today I am endorsing Ted Cruz for President,” Jeb Bush wrote in an email Wednesday morning. Some political observers believe he’s trying to protect the political future of his son, George P. Bush, who is the Texas land commissioner.

None of these new converts to the Cruz camp seem to have any actual arguments about Cruz being a good potential president. Maybe they think if Cruz is the spoiler at the convention, it'll be easier to shove him away to make room for a new superhero? (Looking at you, Mitt.)

Twitter: @nytimescollins