When Texas Senator Ted Cruz took the makeshift stage on the back of a pickup truck Sunday, he addressed a crowd of nearly 200 gathered in a restaurant parking lot with his call on Republicans to embrace a trusted conservative as the party nominee.
But at least one person in attendance wasn’t buying it. Standing outside the roped-off area was Utah Representative Jason Chaffetz, the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and a supporter of Florida Senator Marco Rubio’s candidacy, who was there to shadow his preferred candidate’s frequent sparring partner.
“I was just walking by,” Chaffetz joked, as he was quickly surrounded after texting one reporter of his presence, along with a Rubio communications aide. Chaffetz was there to raise doubts about Cruz’s record and public statements. “He has a propensity to mislead and not tell the truth, so I find his ‘trusted’ slogan ironic,” he told reporters, joking, “I’m just doing a little oversight myself.”
After a few minutes, Cruz spokeswoman Catherine Frazier walked over for some good-natured ribbing with the rival endorser. “Are you coming to endorse Ted?” she asked. “I thought we, like, won you over or something?”
“What can we do [to win you over],” she continued with a laugh. “You can drop out, that’d be great,” Chaffetz fired back. “Oh, not today,” Frazier replied with a smile. When a reporter joked she should put a Cruz sticker on Chaffetz, Frazier said she had run out of them.
The role of interloper is one Chaffetz has played before. In 2012, Chaffetz, then a supporter of Mitt Romney, appeared at more than a dozen Newt Gingrich events in Florida, where the pair were locked in a bitter primary battle, frequently getting under the skin of Gingrich and his aides.