Officially, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, is staying out of the presidential primary.
After all, there are several U.S. senators running in the GOP primary – fellow Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio – as well as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, brother and son to two Texas presidents, making for awkward moments if Cornyn did get involved.
But when Cornyn, the Senate majority whip, was asked on a call with Texas reporters Wednesday to describe what he was looking for in a new president he said, “I think what we need is someone who can win an election, not only the primary, but have broad appeal, not to just card-carrying Republicans but to independents and some Democrats.”
“If you are going to win an election for leader of the free world and commander in chief, I think you’re going to have to find a way to work with others and to build consensus,” said Cornyn. “And that’s not easy.”
Cornyn said he wanted the nominee to be “somebody who can build that consensus, who can work with people of different views and find common ground.”
The book on Cruz, of course, is that he is divisive and does not work well with his Senate colleagues.
Asked specifically about the 2013 immigration bill, Cornyn did not take the opportunity to back up Cruz, who has said on the campaign trail that he authored amendments as “poison pills” in order to kill the measure. Video clips at the recent Fox News debate show Cruz promoting his amendment that removed a path to citizenship for immigrants already in the U.S. illegally but kept legal status for them.
“So far I’ve tried to stay out of it,” said Cornyn, who, like Cruz, is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which considered the legislation. “I don’t really have any comment on that.”
In 2014, Cruz did not endorse Cornyn for re-election in the U.S. Senate primary.