Senior Senate Republicans are calling on Sen. Ted Cruz to rebuild his strained relationships with his colleagues and apologize to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell before the party establishment considers consolidating behind his presidential bid.
Republican senators said that Cruz must return to Capitol Hill and make the case directly to his colleagues to help ease long-festering tensions. And a large number of Republicans said the fence-mending starts with this: Apologizing to McConnell for calling him a liar last year on the floor of the Senate.
That message -- to smooth things over with Senate Republicans in a private session -- was personally delivered by fellow Texan and McConnell's chief deputy, Sen. John Cornyn, who spoke with Cruz by phone after the candidate won their home state's primary earlier this month.
"I actually made that suggestion to him when I talked to him last," Cornyn said when asked if he thought Cruz should apologize for his McConnell remarks. (A spokesman later said that Cornyn did not seek an apology but urged Cruz to speak directly to the Senate GOP Conference.)
"I think he's got some bridges to build here," said Sen. John Thune, the No. 3 Senate Republican. "I think it would be helpful obviously for him -- if he thinks he is going to be the guy or wants to be the guy -- to come back here to mend some of those fences that he tore down when he was here."
"That was not proper as you know, and I raised hell about it," Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, the longest-serving Senate Republican, said of Cruz's criticism of McConnell. "I'm a great believer of repentance and changing, and I think there's a gradual change there that I'm noticing, which is good."
Hatch also had this to say of Cruz: "It's always helpful when you admit you're wrong."
Cruz is supposed to apologize to McConnell for calling McConnell a liar, when he is demonstrably a shameless and compulsive liar, because he was wrong. And, at least the subtext reads to me, that apology is the price of senators supporting Cruz and not supporting the nomination of Donald Trump.
This is not only ridiculous but it underscores the tragic pettiness of the GOP Senate leadership. They really don't care about f*** all besides their perquisites and prerogatives. Were the cost of throwing these douchenozzles out of power not so incredibly high, I would cheer on a Democrat Senate next year.
It has also put Ted Cruz in a difficult position. He'd probably be happier if his Senate colleagues were cheerfully helping his campaign. And had the invitation been delivered privately, he would have had every incentive to go along with the trust-building exercise. But by putting him on public notice that the price of their cooperation is crawling back to Washington and giving McConnell's wrinkled posterior a tongue-bath at a press conference, they have virtually guaranteed that there will be no such overture. It would be utter political suicide for Cruz to do that and it has put a private meeting out of bounds as well because now it has been framed as an official apology.
How far Cruz is willing to go to win back his colleagues remains to be seen.
Jeff Roe, Cruz's campaign manager, signaled that the Texas senator was unlikely to begin wooing his colleagues.
"It's not like we have some phone tree of U.S. senators to endorse," Roe said. "We never built our campaign that way."