Timeline: Trump and Cruz’s rocky relationship
President Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) are set to meet for dinner at the White House Wednesday night amid an increasingly fraught effort to pass House Republicans’ measure repealing and replacing ObamaCare.
Trump has endorsed the bill, and wants GOP lawmakers to quickly pass it. But the legislation has drawn criticism from some Republicans, and while Cruz has not ruled out support for the measure, he has said that it is unlikely to pass the Senate in its current form.
The dinner also marks the latest chapter in the tumultuous history between two men who spent much of 2016 locked in a heated feud. Here’s a timeline of the frequently tense relationship between Trump and Cruz.
2015: Trump and Cruz forge an unlikely bond early on in the presidential race. Cruz was not shy about praising Trump in the early days of the primary, with some suspecting that Cruz hoped Trump would knock out their mutual rivals. And while the real estate mogul made a habit of attacking nearly every other candidate in the Republican field, he tended to spare Cruz.
“Well, it is a little bit of a romance,” Trump told the BBC at the time. “I like him. He likes me.”
That alliance, however, was short lived. A leaked audio recording of Cruz saying he questioned Trump’s “judgement” led to predictable backlash from the real estate mogul and the beginning of an increasingly ugly primary fight.
March 3, 2016: Trump debuts what would be one of his most infamous nicknames during a GOP primary debate, dubbing Cruz “Lyin’ Ted.”
Of course, Cruz wasn’t the only 2016 presidential candidate to be graced with one of Trump’s nicknames. In Trump’s speeches, tweets and debate performances, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) became “Liddle Marco” and Democratic rival Hillary Clinton “Crooked Hillary.”
March 21, 2016: BuzzFeed News reports that a small anti-Trump super PAC is running a Facebook ad in Utah showing Trump’s wife Melania posing nude alongside text introducing “your next first lady.” After seeing reports of the advertisement, Trump aimed his ire at Cruz and his wife Heidi.
“Lyin’ Ted Cruz just used a picture of Melania from a G.Q. shoot in his ad. Be careful, Lyin’ Ted, or I will spill the beans on your wife!” he wrote on Twitter.
And so began a brutal back and forth between the two candidates, marked by petty tweets and insults. Cruz notably called Trump “a sniveling coward.”
March 23, 2016: Trump took the feud straight to Cruz’s wife, retweeting a photo comparing an unflattering picture of Heidi Cruz to Melania Trump.
“No need to ‘spill the beans,'” text on the image reads, a reference to Trump’s threat to “spill the beans.” “The images are worth a thousand words.”
May 3, 2016: Trump alleges during an interview on Fox News’ “Fox & Friends” that Cruz’s father Rafael Cruz was with President John F. Kennedy’s assassin Lee Harvey Oswald before Oswald shot and killed Kennedy.
The then-presidential candidate was echoing a story in the National Enquirer claiming that the senior Cruz distributed pro-Fidel Castro pamphlets alongside Oswald in 1963, the year Kennedy was murdered.
“This is another garbage story in a tabloid full of garbage,” communications director Alice Stewart told McClatchy at the time.
Also on May 3, 2016: Cruz unloads on Trump in the waning weeks of the Republican primaries, calling him a “pathologic liar” and a “narcissist.”
“This man is a pathological liar. He doesn’t know the difference between truth and lies,” Cruz said. “He lies practically every word that comes out of his mouth, and in a pattern that I think is straight out of a psychology text book, his response is to accuse everybody else of lying.”
“The man cannot tell the truth, but he combines it with being a narcissist – a narcissist at a level I don’t think this country’s ever seen.”
July 20, 2016: Cruz holds back on an expected endorsement of Trump during a speech at the Republican National Convention, urging GOP voters instead to “vote your conscience.”
“Stand and speak and vote your conscience, vote for candidates up and down the ticket who you trust to defend our freedom and to be faithful to the Constitution,” Cruz said.
The remarks amounted to a rebuke of Trump, whom many traditional conservastives dismissed as a fake conservative. Trump responded to Cruz’s comments by saying that the Texas senator may have “ruined his political career” by failing to endorse him.
Sept. 23, 2016: In a startling about face, Cruz throws his support behind Trump as the only candidate separating Clinton from the White House.
“Our country is in crisis. Hillary Clinton is manifestly unfit to be president, and her policies would harm millions of Americans. And Donald Trump is the only thing standing in her way,” Cruz wrote in a Facebook post.
Oct. 6, 2016: A video emerges of Cruz making phone calls on behalf of Trump. While he doesn’t mention the then-Republican nominee by name, the Texas senator is seen sitting in front of a wall of Trump campaign signs.
“Hi, This is Ted Cruz calling,” he says in the video. “I was calling you to encourage you to come out and vote on Election Day.”
“This election is critical for the direction of our country, and I urge you to come out and support freedom and the Constitution and the Bill of Rights,” he continues.
Unluckily for Cruz, the viral picture showing him campaigning for Trump Trump circulated just a day before the release of a 2005 “Access Hollywood” tape showing Trump boasting about sexual assault.
March 8, 2017: Cruz and his wife are set to dine with Trump and first lady Melania Trump Wednesday night, as the White House attempts to push the Republican ObamaCare repeal bill through.
Cruz has not publicly rejected the bill, but told Roll Call that he doesn’t believe it likely to pass the Senate in its current form. Other Republican senators, including Mike Lee (Utah) and Rand Paul (Ken.), have already come out against the measure.
Trump will likely try to sell Cruz on the measure, which would fulfill Trump’s campaign promise to dismantle and replace ObamaCare.
At a press briefing, White House spokesman Sean Spicer was asked whether Trump planned to apologize to Heidi Cruz for his attacks on her looks during the campaign. Spicer didn’t respond directly to the question.