US election: Jeb Bush throws support behind Ted Cruz

As Republican race tightens, former rivals join forces but it remains to be seen if Donald Trump can be challenged.

Ted Cruz
Republican presidential candidate Senator Ted Cruz received support from rival Jeb Bush [Shawn Gust/AP]

Jeb Bush has endorsed Ted Cruz to be the American president. It must be a stunning sentence to read. It was certainly surprising to write.

This latest endorsement picked up by Cruz is hugely symbolic.

It doesn’t bring a huge swath of supporters, because at this stage of the US presidential race, if you’re endorsing another candidate, it’s because you didn’t win a huge swath of support.

Bush, the former Florida governor, announced his support in a Facebook post. He called Cruz a “consistent, principled conservative”.

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And it was a sign that part of the Republican establishment is finally willing to accept that Cruz is best placed to stop Donald Trump.

That’s quite a step because almost no one in Washington – Republican or Democrat – likes Ted Cruz.

He is viewed as an opportunist, a man who arrived in the Senate with one eye already on his presidential run. The feeling was Cruz made decisions based on what would be best for Ted Cruz and his appeal to the Republican Party’s conservative base.

 Donald Trump and the media

Jeb’s made his move now for a number of reasons.

Firstly he really dislikes the Republican frontrunner Trump. He sees him as a rude, brash, vulgar aberration; someone who is not really a Republican and certainly not a conservative.

He still bears the scars of the incessant attacks from the billionaire businessman at the beginning of his campaign. In fact, for every tweet Trump sent out attacking others in the Republican race, he posted four attacking Bush. And the former governor also remembers that Trump called his brother – former president George W Bush – a liar over the intelligence that took the United States to war in Iraq.

READ MORE: Trump at his angriest, antagonistic worst

Cruz is in second place in the nominating contest. So does Bush now believe that he would be a candidate who could unite the Republican Party and appeal to enough independents and Democrats to win the general election? No, he doesn’t. But what he does provide is the best hope the Republicans have to block Trump from picking up enough delegates to secure the nomination.

If that happens, then when Republicans gather for the convention in Cleveland, Ohio, in July, there’ll be a contested convention. And those backing Ted Cruz will have done their job.

At that point, pressure will be brought to bear on the delegates from the Republican establishment to pick a more electable candidate. Of the three still in the race, John Kasich would be that choice. But he still has only won his home state, and it is hard to see where he gets a second victory.

 Trump cements position as Republican frontrunner

Trump is almost certain to go into that convention with the most delegates. One of the strengths of his campaign is that he is not a politician and, therefore, doesn’t follow the unusual rules. He believes if he was denied the nomination, there “would be riots“.

And given that he has racked up hundreds of thousands of votes in this campaign, the Republican Party would be taking a big gamble to essentially write those off, ignore the will of the people, and manipulate another candidate into position. 

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It could lose the party support for generations to come. People would be hugely disillusioned with a system they already don’t trust.

It’s almost impossible to believe that the delegates would buy such a move; that they would ignore the support of so many voters, a process that has cost hundreds of millions of dollars and will take more than a year to complete.

But then I’ve written about many more surprising things during this campaign.

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Source: Al Jazeera