President Trump To Campaign For Former Rival Ted Cruz In Texas Senate Race

Donald Trump and Ted Cruz
Scott Olson / Getty Images

As the Senate election in Texas continues to take an unexpected turn, President Donald Trump announced on Friday that he will travel to the Lone Star State in October to rally for one of his rivals during the 2016 presidential run, Ted Cruz. Trump’s move suggests he and the GOP are taking the challenge from Democratic candidate Beto O’Rourke seriously.

“I’m picking the biggest stadium in Texas we can find,” Trump tweeted earlier today. “As you know, Ted has my complete and total Endorsement.”

Trump also mentions O’Rourke directly, saying that Cruz’s “opponent is a disaster for Texas – weak on Second Amendment, Crime, Borders, Military, and Vets!”

Many Texans have doubted the flurry of polls showing a neck-and-neck Senate race in Texas, but Trump’s tweet shows that O’Rourke has the full attention of Republicans, including the president himself.

Cruz’s bid for re-election in the deep-red state of Texas has consistently been considered among the most solidly Republican hold in all of the country. Trump’s announcement of his presidential trip more than a month in advance indicates that there is growing sense of panic among Republicans, as noted by CNBC.

That argument is backed up by a recent announcement by the conservative Club For Growth that it plans to invest a seven-figure sum to defend Cruz, according to CNN. Though Cruz and Trump are now political allies on most issues, the now president nicknamed the last man standing between him and the Republican nomination during the 2016 presidential primary season “Lyin’ Ted,” and Cruz once called Trump “a sniveling coward.”

According to an Emerson College e-poll published Wednesday, incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz currently has 38 percent of the vote, while O’Rourke has 37 percent, and 21 percent of respondents remain undecided, as USA Today reported. This means that Cruz is in a statistical dead heat with his opponent.

Late Tuesday, the Texas GOP tweeted an arrest photo of O’Rourke from two decades ago, in an effort to reshape the candidate’s image from fresh-faced, “Kennedy-esque” optimist to dangerous radical, the Dallas Morning News noted. The state GOP also tweeted a photo of O’Rourke from his days as a punk rocker in which he has a goatee, long hair, and a flowery dress.

Cruz’s seat is of utmost importance for Republicans, as evidenced by Trump’s frequent bemoaning that the GOP’s current 51-49 majority in the Senate isn’t a real majority.

Cruz and O’Rourke have each raised more than $23 million for the race so far, according to CBS News, citing campaign finance data. The two candidates have yet to finalize any debate schedule.