Ted Cruz & Ken Starr: Two Must-Listen Interviews From the Texas Tribune Festival

At the festival of politicians and newsmakers over the weekend, former presidential candidate Cruz refused to say Trump is fit to be president and former Baylor president Starr said sexual assault at Baylor is not an endemic problem.

By David BrownSeptember 25, 2016 8:13 pm| ,

Two months ago at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, former presidential candidate Texas Sen. Ted Cruz took the stage notably refusing to endorse the nominee Donald Trump. But after we went off the air on Friday, just hours before the start of the annual political wonkfest known as the Texas Tribune Festival, Cruz announced he would indeed endorse Donald Trump – fulfilling a campaign promise to endorse the Republican nominee, whoever that is.

It’s a huge course reversal for a man who once called Trump a “pathological liar” and a “sniveling coward.” At the Texas Tribune Festival, co-founder and CEO Evan Smith reminded Cruz that he was endorsing the same man who made light of his wife’s looks and who insinuated that Cruz’s dad had a role in the assassination of John F. Kennedy. But Smith went further – he asked Cruz if Trump is fit to be president.

Cruz didn’t give a straight answer:

“I think it is fair to say that there is not another candidate in the field who tried harder, who left more on the field in an effort to defeat Donald than I did,” Cruz says. “We didn’t succeed and at the end of the day, I have to respect the democratic process. And the democratic process has given us, effectively, a binary choice.”

Cruz wouldn’t say that he supports Trump, instead, he said a Hillary Clinton presidency would be worse than a Trump presidency.

Earlier in the day, a surprise guest took the stage at the Texas Tribune Festival. Smith held a one-on-one with Ken Starr, the Baylor president let go from his job in the wake of a scathing internal report on the university’s handling of sexual assault. The internal report characterized the university’s response as a willingness to overlook football players’ roles in a series of assaults.

Art Briles, the football coach widely credited with making Baylor a top ranked contender, was also sent packing.

Starr said neither he nor Briles was fired with cause. When Smith asked whether there was a culture at Baylor that fostered sexual assault, Starr told Smith he would “resist the characterization that there was an endemic problem.”

“Is it something that suggests that there is a ‘cultural issue’? And I mean by that a coaching staff that is turning a blind eye or is this somehow an indirect way, much less direct way encouraging an unhealthy culture?” Starr said. “I have great confidence to this day in Coach Briles. I believe he is an honorable person.”

Starr said he’s writing a book on what happened at Baylor and has already started working with a publisher.