U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, made his first media appearance late last week since returning from a vacation following his failed presidential campaign. Here are some highlights from his interview with Oklahoma radio host Pat Campbell:
• Cruz provided a lengthy explanation for why he chose to drop out of the race after losing the Indiana primary, easily his most extensive remarks on the topic yet. He blamed the media for dampening his momentum after winning a series of contests in April, suggesting that Donald Trump's perceived inevitability kept Cruz supporters from showing up at the polls.
• Cruz would not budge on the issue of whether he will support Trump. He reiterated he hopes the party has a nominee "who will actually defend conservative principles." Told that Trump "doesn't live up to those standards you're setting," Cruz replied, "Well, I hope that he will."
• Cruz would not say whether he plans to release his delegates before Cleveland, as U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida said Thursday he would do. Cruz only said he is "looking and listening to see what the candidates do."
• Asked about Trump's past suggestion he will push to change the GOP platform when it comes to abortion, Cruz reiterated he and his supporters "intend to do everything we can to fight for conservative principles to prevent Washington forces from watering down the platform."
• Cruz continued to praise U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine of Oklahoma, who chaired Cruz's campaign in the state and whom Cruz is backing for re-election. Cruz called Bridenstine a "rock star" and said "the reason Jim has a primary challenger ... is Jim is willing to stand up to leadership, willing to stand up to folks like [former House Speaker] John Boehner, and leadership hates it."
And in Cruz alumni news, Ken Cuccinelli, who led the delegate-wrangling operation for Ted Cruz's presidential campaign, is joining FreedomWorks Foundation as general counsel, the conservative group announced Wednesday morning.
Cuccinelli, the former attorney general of Virginia, was brought in during the final weeks of Cruz's campaign to prepare for a potentially contested Republican National Convention.
U.S. Housing Secretary Julián Castro will speak next month at the Texas Democratic Convention, the state party announced Wednesday morning.
Castro, rumored to be a potential running mate for Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton, will address the convention on June 17, according to the party. The gathering is being held from June 16-18 at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Castro's hometown.
Castro's twin brother, U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, is also scheduled to speak at the convention.
Talking with the Tribune’s Julián Aguilar, U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, R-San Antonio, repeated on Thursday that he’s not yet throwing his support behind presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump.
Hurd explains that he’s basing his reluctance to endorse on Trump’s lack of “a real national security plan.” Hurd’s opponent in the fall, Pete Gallego, has repeatedly called on Hurd to spell out whether he supports Trump.
Here’s Hurd’s complete response:
“I’ve said this before: Until he shows he can respect women and minorities and has a real national security plan, I am going to reserve my endorsement. He has seven months to convince me and the rest of the country. The only reason my opponent continues to bring this up is he wants to hide the fact that he was a failure in Congress over two years. And that’s why they want to make this [campaign] a focus of things that have nothing to do with the level of service that’s being given to the 23rd district.”
Hurd defeated Gallego for the CD-23 seat — the only swing congressional district in Texas — in 2014.
The Tribune’s Abby Livingston reported in mid-May that a Democratic super PAC was already reserving $850,000 in ad time in the San Antonio television market. Livingston at the time wrote that some Texas strategists project spending in the race could exceed $15 million.
In other Hurd news, the social conservative advocacy group Texas Values Action is taking the congressman to task for being the lone Texas Republican to vote for an amendment last month that would have prevented federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
At the core of the criticism by Texas Values Action is the group’s assertion that this language would have put in statute President Barack Obama’s executive order extending non-discrimination protections to gay, lesbian and transgender people.
“While the majority of Texas Republicans in Congress and state leaders like Sen. Ted Cruz, Governor Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Attorney General Ken Paxton are leading the fight against Obama’s bathroom takeover attempts, it is extremely disappointing that Rep. Will Hurd is seemingly willing put the safety of women and children across the country at risk,” the organization writes in an email to its supporters.
Texas Values Action closes by asking its supporters to contact the congressman to persuade him to vote no on future legislation that includes language similar to the amendment.