Sen. Ted Cruz has figured out a crafty way to walk the line on Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's "rigged election" claims.
As you may have heard — unless you live under a rock or something — Trump is polling badly and appears likely to lose the election. And since Trump never loses, according to Trump, he's been oh-so-subtly hinting that he thinks anything but a win for him on election day will mean the election is rigged.
As we've noted before, Trump's claims of a rigged system and his refusal to promise to concede to Hillary Clinton if he loses, honoring centuries of democratic tradition, are both troubling.
Faith in our elections is a crucial part of what makes our democracy work. The peaceful change of power every four or eight years — the ability of a system where people wield tremendous power and then, when their terms are up, hand it over — stems directly from that mutual faith in our system of government. So Trump saying what he's publicly said and not guaranteeing he'll honor the election results even if he loses is a pretty messed up thing to do.
Enter good old Cruz. The junior Texas senator had a good moment earlier this year, when he stood on stage at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland and refused to commit to Trump. We have to admit, we were impressed with how he stood up for his principles and would not support a man who has publicly insulted him, his wife and father.
But then last month Cruz turned around and backed Trump. (Principles are nice and everything, but after all, Cruz has few congressional allies and is up for re-election in 2018, so he needs the Republicans that hated him for bucking Trump.)
From there he ended up working the phones for Trump, looking impressively unhappy about it, right about the same time that the 2005 Access Hollywood video of Trump bragging about groping women leaked and Republicans started withdrawing their endorsements like it was about to go out of style.
We half-expected to see Cruz join the bevy of politicians frantically washing their hands of Trump, but he hasn't done that. Instead, Cruz is apparently sticking it out. And while he's not actually, technically promoting Trump's "rigged election" narrative, Cruz has found a clever way to sound like he's doing just that.
How? Well, by focusing on the "voter fraud operative" and not the "rigged election."
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Cruz has been pretty chatty about the alleged "voter fraud operative" Robert Creamer, a Democratic activist with ties to Clinton's campaign who was shown in a heavily edited video talking with other operatives, purportedly kicking around ideas about ways to incite violence at Trump rallies. Also it turns out Creamer has visited the White House a lot. (Creamer has since resigned from Clinton's campaign.)
Cruz snapped up this information and has since been talking about Creamer, the "voter fraud operative" in ways that make it sound a whole lot like Cruz is buying into Trump's rigged election claims. Cruz has even called for a "serious criminal investigation" over Creamer's trips to the White House.
What's exasperating about this bit is that Cruz is trying to work all of the angles. On one hand, he can say he's been concerned about voting issues via the "voter fraud operative" while on the other, he can continue to decline to say, well, anything at all about Trump's contentions the election is fixed.
It's a win-win for him.