Constitutional law expert Donald Trump will play host to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz at one of the real estate mogul's insistently-named Trump buildings on Friday. While the purpose of the meeting isn't clear, it will likely involve Trump dangling wads of cash from a fishing rod just over Cruz's head and reviewing his citizenship documents with an old-timey magnifying glass.
You may recall that earlier this year, Trump told ABC News that he wasn't certain whether Canadian-born Cruz was actually eligible to run for president. Asked by ABC's Jonathan Karl for some reason if Cruz could run, Trump replied, "If he was born in Canada, perhaps not." Then: "I don’t know the circumstances. I heard somebody told me he was born in Canada. That’s really his thing." Which is pretty sound analysis.
Karl asked Trump this, of course, because Trump has been insistent in arguing that President Obama was not born in the United States and is therefore ineligible to hold the office he has held for five years. A week or so after that interview, Cruz released his birth certificate to the public while insisting that 2016 was the furthest thing from his mind. We asked birther queen Orly Taitz if she was convinced by Cruz's birth certificate; surprisingly, she was not.
So that's one topic they'll certainly cover, Trump looking sternly at Cruz from under that shelf of orange-gray hair. Trump will probably also intimate, as he did to Karl, that he plans on running in '16, and has billions and billions of dollars to do so. This is Trump's carrot-stick combo: All of this money will go to me or to you, Cruz, so let's talk. In 2012, he dipped his foot into the candidate pool, quickly losing three toes to piranhas. He then endorsed Mitt Romney at a very weird Las Vegas ceremony at which Romney looked pretty uncomfortable. Trump recorded phone calls for Romney during the primary in Michigan, the one state that Romney was at absolutely zero risk of losing. And Trump promised to open the fundraising taps for Romney, donations of which the FEC has no record. In an interview with Business Insider, Trump's lawyer swore that his client had given and raised "mega-millions" for Romney — but to untraceable super PACs, which is certainly inconvenient for those seeking to verify the claims. (Trump does otherwise have a long track record of giving in more modest amounts to both Democrats and Republicans. He is, after all, a businessman.)
What does Trump get out of the meeting? Press coverage and, more importantly, to be taken seriously as a "kingmaker." If Cruz does well over the coming months, you will hear a lot about how Trump knew-him-when. What does Cruz get out of the Friday meeting? It's not entirely clear, though it cements him more firmly in the Republican fringe. (Meanwhile, Cruz's dad is fundraising for Sarah Palin.) But if Cruz believes that Trump can help pave the way to electoral victory, a word of caution: Trump is about as good at political kingmaking as he is at making elegant, subtle high rises.