Whispers has learned that Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas will be the closing speaker at the Conservative Political Action Conference this March, an annual political conference that draws more conservatives than any other event in the country.
Last year, former Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin won the coveted speaking spot. Tea party favorite Allen West closed the conference in 2011, and conservative commentator Glenn Beck spoke last in 2010…
“In just a few months, Ted Cruz has become a strong, independent conservative voice in the Senate,” ACU Chairman Al Cardenas said in a press release Thursday. “Senator Cruz personifies the theme of this year’s CPAC—America’s Future: The Next Generation of Conservatives.”
Cruz’s ambition and no-holds-barred style have made him a hero among conservative activists and raised talk that Cruz – like Florida Senator Marco Rubio, another Hispanic rising star among Republicans – might run for president as soon as 2016.
“He’s a political phenomenon, and he has managed to become a national figure in a very short period of time,” said Steve Munisteri, chairman of the Texas Republican Party. “I have no doubt that a year from now, virtually every Republican activist in the country will know who Ted Cruz is.”…
“In the modern, cable television-talk radio media age, the more outrageous you are, the more attention you get,” [AEI analyst Norm] Ornstein said. “And Cruz is no dummy. He’s a smart, articulate guy. You’ll be seeing and hearing him a lot.”…
Cruz accompanied McConnell on a congressional visit to Israel and Afghanistan last month and won an admirer in the process. McConnell told the National Review Online afterward that Cruz was “ready for prime time on day one, which is pretty unusual for somebody who just got sworn in.”
“I love the guy,” said conservative Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), another “no” vote against Kerry who also opposes Hagel. “And he’s got the tenacity to stand for something and not back down. That means he’s my kind of guy.”
“I think he’s going to be a superstar,” said Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a fellow Cuban-American and another rising star on the right. “You’re already starting to see some of that. He’s just smart as a whip.”
Cruz declined a request for an interview, citing his lost voice after suffering from a cold. But in response to written questions, Cruz was unapologetic.
“I made promises to the people of Texas that I would come to Washington to shake up the status quo, to fight for conservative principles and to lead a concerted and meaningful effort to end the unsustainable spending, deficits and debt that have been propagated, unfortunately, by members of both parties,” Cruz said.
“I think he’s got unlimited potential,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told Manu Raju of Politico. “But the one thing I will say to any new senator — you’re going to be respected if you can throw a punch but you also have to prove you can do a deal.”
Sure, the people of Texas sent Cruz to Washington to shake things up. But once here, the need to govern (read, putting what’s right for the nation ahead of what’s right for one’s image back home) ought to trump all other considerations. Great senators are the ones whose influence reaches far beyond their home states because they (usually) put country above party, ideology and politics when it is needed most. Looks like it’s going to take a while for Cruz to learn this, assuming that’s possible.
Cruz has taken the wear-their-scorn-as-a-badge-of-honor approach with his liberal critics. As he told Glenn Beck last month, “I view all of that as a sign that maybe we’re doing something right.”
Behind the scenes, Cruz has rankled even Republican colleagues, who think he lectures too much at private party sessions — “pontificates” is one word used — and listens too little, especially for a newbie.
One Republican senator described Cruz to me as “Jim DeMint without the charm,” referring to the rigidly conservative South Carolina Republican who left the Senate to head the Heritage Foundation — and who was not exactly renowned for being warm and fuzzy. Cruz is said to have a frosty relationship with his state’s senior senator, John Cornyn (R), dating to Cruz’s surprising decision, as Senate candidate, not to endorse his fellow Texan’s bid for party whip…
What reasonable inference is there to draw about this brash new senator? That there’s little he won’t do in pursuit of his prey.
He’s an ornery, swaggering piece of work. Just six weeks since his arrival on Capitol Hill, he’s already known for his naysaying, his nit-picking and his itch to upbraid lawmakers who are vastly senior to him, who have sacrificed more than he has and who deserve a measure of respect, or at least an iota of courtesy. Courtesy isn’t Cruz’s métier. Grandstanding and browbeating are…
Note in particular a Republican pollster’s recent interviews with Ohio voters. When the pollster asks them to play word association with “Republican,” the answers indeed include a few descriptions that the profiles of Rubio and Cruz push back against: “rich,” “white.” But the adjectives “rigid” and “polarizing” also come up, along with a lament about an “all-or-nothing” approach. These descriptions fit Cruz like a glove…
Indeed, the challenge for Republicans now — a challenge that, to limited and varying degrees, Rubio and even Eric Cantor are beginning to grasp — is to be seen and to act as a constructive force, as a party that’s for things, that wants to be inclusive and that operates with a generosity of spirit, not an overflow of spite. With his votes and his vitriol, Cruz undermines that. He brings himself plenty of attention. He’ll bring Republicans nothing but grief.
“Comity does not mean avoiding the truth,” [Cruz] added. “And it would be wrong to avoid speaking the truth about someone’s record and past policy positions, even if doing so inevitably subjects me to personal criticism from Democrats and the media.”
To the growing core of ardent conservatives in the Senate, Mr. Cruz has offered a jolt of positive energy.
“If you don’t ruffle any feathers, you’re not doing anything right,” said Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, who garnered similar attention in his opening weeks in the Senate two years ago…
After she raised the specter of McCarthyism, Ms. McCaskill was asked if she had spoken to Mr. Cruz about her concerns.
“I’m not sure it would do any good,” she said. “Do you?”
At times, the meeting slipped into an unusually accusatory and bitter back-and-forth, with Republicans like Ted Cruz, a freshman senator from Texas, going as far as to suggest that Mr. Hagel had accepted money from nations that oppose American interests.
Saying that he had serious doubts about the source of payments that Mr. Hagel had accepted for speaking engagements, Mr. Cruz declared, “It is at a minimum relevant to know if that $200,000 that he deposited in his bank account came directly from Saudi Arabia, came directly from North Korea.”