WASHINGTON (CNN) — Ted Cruz plans to back Donald Trump for the presidency as early as Friday, according to multiple sources familiar with the Texas senator’s decision, a stunning turn of events after a contentious primary filled with nasty personal attacks and a dramatic snub at the Republican National Convention.
The exact nature of the announcement isn’t yet clear.
Trump has moved closer to Cruz in recent weeks, hiring key allies such as Kellyanne Conway as his campaign manager, and Jason Miller as a spokesman.
Cruz met recently with Trump’s vice presidential nominee Mike Pence, the ticket’s bridge to the conservative base. On Wednesday, Trump’s campaign expressed support for a Cruz-backed, Internet-related proposal in government funding talks in the Senate. And Friday, Trump released a new list of conservative judges likely to appeal to the former Supreme Court clerk — including perhaps Cruz’s closest friend in Congress, Utah Sen. Mike Lee.
The two men clashed repeatedly during the primaries, as Trump taunted the senator with the nickname “Lyin’ Ted,” suggested Cruz wasn’t eligible to be president due to his Canadian birthplace, and even speculated that Cruz’s father was involved in the JFK assassination.
On his last day of the GOP campaign — the Indiana primary in early May — Cruz let loose against Trump, calling the businessman a “serial philanderer,” “utterly amoral,” and “a narcissist at a level I don’t think this country’s ever seen.
Radio host Steve Deace also told CNN he believed the announcement was imminent
“I believe he will release an op-ed today, basing it on the fact he has Pence’s assurances on judges,” Deace said.
In recent days, Cruz has declined to say if he would endorse Trump, but continued to say Hillary Clinton should not be elected.
“My focus is on defeating Hillary Clinton and helping preserve a Senate Republican majority,” Cruz told CNN’s Manu Raju Tuesday. “Because we need a federal government that is devoted to defending the Constitution, to defeating radical Islamic terrorism and keeping this country safe.”
Asked if that meant he could endorse Trump before November, Cruz added: “I’ve given you my answer.”