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Ted Cruz to Speak at GOP Convention, Still Not Endorsing Trump

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz met with presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump Thursday and agreed to speak at the Republican National Convention later this month.

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Editor's note: This story has been updated throughout.

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz met with presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump Thursday and agreed to speak at the Republican National Convention later this month.

"Sen. Cruz and Donald Trump had a good meeting this morning. There was no discussion of any endorsement," Cruz spokeswoman Catherine Frazier said in a statement. "Mr. Trump asked Sen. Cruz to speak at the Republican Convention, and Sen. Cruz said he would be happy to do so."

"Mr. Trump also asked Sen. Cruz for his counsel on future judicial nominations, and Cruz responded he would continue to do everything he can to help ensure principled constitutionalists on the courts," she added.  

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Preibus also attended the meeting, according to multiple reports, which took place after Trump met with Republican Senators on Capitol Hill. 

Cruz is one of the few holdouts in the Texas delegation who has yet to endorse Trump. But Cruz's vantage point on Trump is far more complicated than the rank-and-file members of Congress from Texas.

Cruz and Trump ended their rivalry in late May on a particularly bitter note, with Trump implying that Cruz's father, Rafael Cruz, was allegedly involved in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Furthermore, Cruz is overtly building a campaign infrastructure that many believe to be the infant steps of a 2020 presidential run.

The meeting was reported by CNN and Politico.

Priebus could be seen in a black SUV entering an underground parking garage at the National Republican Senatorial Committee building Thursday morning, the headquarters of the Senate Republican campaign arm. Trump was inside the building meeting with GOP senators, including Cruz's Texas colleague, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn.

Trump has struggled to win the trust of social and fiscal conservatives, groups Cruz has long cultivated with a mantra of being among the few "true conservatives" in Congress. Cruz risks disappointing that base by endorsing Trump, who has alienated some conservatives. 

But there is pressure on Cruz to back Trump in order to defeat former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a reviled figure in conservative politics, particularly to keep her from having the chance to appoint liberal justices to the U.S. Supreme Court if vacancies should arise.

"It's all over the board," a Cruz operative told the Tribune. "Some say endorse; some say run away."  

Trump's meeting with Republican senators was outright contentious at times, according to The Washington Post. Trump used the meeting to air grievances against specific senators who have criticized his rhetoric, according to the report. Some senators avoided the meeting altogether.

The situation was far less dire during a meeting earlier in the morning with the House. Several House Republicans from Texas attended the meeting with Trump at the Capitol Hill Club, a popular meeting place for Washington Republicans.

Some Republican members emerged from that meeting ebullient. Others dodged the mob of reporters outside of the building.

"I'm glad Trump came to Capitol Hill this morning to meet with Republicans," said U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio, in a statement shortly after that meeting. "We are unified and ready to defeat Hillary Clinton."

The contrasting tone of the two meetings demonstrated the differing stakes for Republicans in the two chambers. Republican operatives fear Trump's divisive campaign poses an existential threat to the GOP's majority on the Senate side. A half-dozen or so Republican incumbents could face situations where they will have to outperform Trump by large margins in their home states in order to survive re-election.

But House Republicans have a cushion that makes them less jittery: the way House districts are drawn across much of the country. Back in 2011, Republican-dominated state legislatures redrew Congressional maps that heavily favored the GOP, increasing the likelihood the GOP would hold the chamber through the decade.

To be sure, there are plenty of Republicans who are nervous that Trump could still manage to drag down the 30 House GOP incumbents Democrats need to restore the gavel to their leader, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

But that is widely seen as unlikely, for now.

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