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Proving politics really does make for strange bedfellows, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump warmly embraced the endorsement of his former rival, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, even as many of the latter's supporters denounced the move.
Late Friday, Cruz shocked the political establishment by publicly backing Trump, only months after he pointedly declined to do so in a prime time speech at the GOP Convention and after a barrage of personal attacks appeared to poison the well between the two.
Even as a number of Cruz supporters denounced the move, Trump wasted little time in basking in the endorsement, calling it "a wonderful surprise" in a tweet early Saturday, and predicted a victory in November's election.
The surprising development came days before the pivotal first presidential debate. It appeared positioned to help Republicans salve the wounds of a bitter primary, and close ranks to defeat Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
During the apex of the GOP primary, both Trump and Cruz denounced one another as liars. The attacks hit a crescendo, with the real estate mogul and his supporters relentlessly badgering his rival with the nickname: "Lyin' Ted."
Despite attacks on both his wife and father, the Texas senator said he and his family had had decided to forgive Trump. Many of Cruz's more prominent supporters, however, were not as willing to allow bygones to be bygones.
In tentatively setting aside his bitter rivalry with Trump, Cruz cast his decision as a carefully considered, principled bid to deny Clinton the presidency. The first term Texas senator, who is up for reelection next year, cited Obamacare, Supreme Court nominations and the economy as factors behind his move.
However, that argument was a tough sell for many of voters who backed his insurgent acts in the U.S. Senate and his presidential bid. A few said Cruz's endorsement of Trump vindicated Cruz's sharpest critics—several of whom accused him of opportunism.
Caleb Howe, the managing editor of Red State, a conservative-leaning publication that is a fount of 'Never Trump' sentiment, branded Cruz's endorsement as 'Tedmaggedon' in a post early Saturday.
"When it comes to voters, all [Cruz] has done is taken his only remaining dedicated fan base...and utterly disappointed them," Howe wrote.