But as Cruz fights to make the case that backing him is the best way to defeat frontrunner Donald Trump, Republican senators aren’t budging, according to a Tuesday report from Bloomberg Politics.
Asked by Bloomberg why they aren’t backing Cruz, senators responded with awkward chuckles, long silences, and evading the reporter by ducking into a restricted elevator. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) responded by saying he was headed to lunch.
“I think it’s a whole list of things,” Sen. Dan Coats (R-IN) told Bloomberg. He also said “everybody knows why” Cruz lacks support in the Senate.
While a number of senators—Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), and Pat Roberts (R-KS) among them—said they would stay the course backing Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who dropped out of the presidential race late last year, conceded he at least thinks the Texas senator is a true conservative.
“Ted Cruz is not my preferential choice, but I believe he's a Republican conservative and Trump’s not,” Graham told Bloomberg. “Bottom line is I think he’s more electable than Trump. I don’t know how much that is.”
Others told Bloomberg they were still salty about Cruz’s driving role in the 2013 government shutdown.
“I think what was frustrating about that was there were expectations created that somehow we could win," Sen. John Thune (R-SD) said. "And I think all along it was pretty clear we weren’t going to succeed there. So it was frustrating for a lot of us, having to go through that process. But hopefully lessons have been learned by everybody."