Nikki Haley in January, reacting to criticism of her description of Donald Trump as one of the “angriest voices” in the Republican Party:
Haley: There’s some things that other presidential candidates have said, too. And when I see something wrong, I say it.
Reporter: Is Ted Cruz one of those angriest voices?
Haley: You know, I haven’t heard Ted say anything in terms of the religion. If he did, I would say something about that. But I have disagreements with other presidential candidates. You know, Jeb Bush passed Common Core and Marco Rubio believes in amnesty, which I don’t. There’s lots of things. But I will say: tone matters, message matters and responsibility matters. And I think, as we go forward, we need to be responsible in our message.
Sounds like Nikki Haley has a bit of a soft spot for Ted Cruz, doesn’t it? Well, here’s Nikki Haley in February:
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That’s Nikki Haley endorsing Marco Rubio, citing a host of reasons for voting for Rubio that sounded like they were lifted from Ted Cruz’s website. Cruz Rubio has “fight.” Cruz Rubio has “conviction.” Cruz Rubio knows that “when we fight wars we win wars.” Cruz Rubio will stop the “federal mandates that have been pushed on the states, like Obamacare and the EPA.” Cruz Rubio will “bring a conscience back to our Republicans.”
Haley’s ideological fit with Rubio seems…strained, at best. She and her voters both seem to match up better with Cruz, who has gone out of his way to be a caricature of all things conservative.
But if there’s one thing we know about endorsements from establishment figures like governors and members of Congress, it’s that they don’t go to the candidates with the best ideological fit; they go to the establishment-approved candidates who look like they are going to win.
This being the case, Cruz was never really in the running for Haley’s endorsement. She’s considered a potential Vice Presidential nominee, and the Republican establishment absolutely hates Cruz (which could have something to do with the time he called Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell a liar on the Senate floor, among other offenses). This being the case, Haley can’t endorse with her conscience; she has to endorse with her career.
Haley isn’t alone in doing this, but degree to which she had to bend over backwards to lend credibility to her endorsement is really quite something.