US presidential candidate Ted Cruz won the backing of former rival Jeb Bush in the latest sign that prominent Republicans are keen to stop Donald Trump from winning the party’s nomination.
They are trying to force a standoff with Trump at their party’s convention in July because they fear his rhetoric on illegal immigration and national security will cost the party votes at the Nov. 8 presidential election, Reuters reports.
Cruz, a senator from Texas, is a staunch social conservative and a divisive figure in the party due to his willingness to criticize the leadership and his prominent role in bringing about a 2013 government shutdown.
But he is still seen by party stalwarts and many Republicans in Congress as preferable to Trump, a real-estate billionaire viewed as straying even further from party orthodoxy.
“Republicans across the spectrum are realizing that to nominate Donald Trump brings chaos to our party and potentially to our country,” US Representative Trent Franks of Arizona told Reuters, “and that any differences they might have had with Ted Cruz are far less important than the danger of nominating Mr. Trump.”
In his customary style, Trump took to social media to register his scorn, referring to the profligate spending by former Florida governor Bush’s well-funded campaign and associated political fund-raising groups.
“I think having Jeb’s endorsement hurts Lyin’ Ted,” ran a message on Trump’s Twitter account. “Jeb spent more than US$150,000,000 and got nothing. I spent a fraction of that and am first!”
Bush, who quit his campaign last month after a poor start to the primary season, sent a fund-raising email on Cruz’s behalf to his supporters, urging them to help “overcome the divisiveness and vulgarity” of Trump.
Cruz won the Republican caucuses in Utah on Tuesday but time is running out for him to defeat Trump before the Republican convention in July, and for Republican establishment figures to reassert control of a party that is being wrested away from it by rank-and-file voters.
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