In my short tenure, my focus has been — and will remain — on two things: fighting for conservative principles in the Senate, and working to help elect strong conservatives to win a majority in the Senate in 2014. The Senate is the battlefield to defend liberty.
I was elected because thousands of grassroots conservatives came together to protect the Constitution, shrink the federal government, and promote growth and opportunity. It is a continued source of amazement that the simple fact that I am working hard with like-minded Senators to keep my promise is seen as newsworthy and cause for wild speculation.
Instead, if Cruz, 42, is not taking out filing papers just yet, he’s doing whatever he can to prolong and intensify his moment as the golden boy of the right. The Princeton and Harvard Law graduate is keenly aware of his place within the national politico-media complex. As much as any up-and-coming Republican, he has proven adept at exploiting the forces that propel GOP politicians to success in the Obama era. And he knows it…
“The establishment disdain and mocking, I think, feeds his willingness to continue to do what he’s doing. If he wasn’t being effective or having an impact, we wouldn’t be hearing much about him,” [Dave] Carney said…
Should their party nominate a candidate with Cruz’s record and message, Republicans fear a debacle on the scale of George McGovern’s landslide 1972 defeat. Even some conservative leaders, who are sympathetic to Cruz on policy, privately grumble over his theatrical personal style…
One Republican who has worked with Cruz fumed: “He’s supposed to be the new Cicero, yet when you hear the guy speak, it’s basically 47 minutes of one political cliché stapled to the back of another. ‘We need to stand for freedom.’ Well, great, but what the —— does that mean?”
“He’s clearly carved out his niche as a conservative guy, and I think he’ll be seen very well overall in South Carolina,” McMullen said of the up-and-comer. “His inexperience, I think, is not going to play well. A lot of people, after Romney, in this state are looking for someone with serious gravitas, who’s able to win an election.”
Adding to Cruz’s challenge, not every DeMint acolyte is yet convinced that the Texan is a natural heir to the former South Carolina senator, who was urged to run for president in 2012 by many supporters but decided ultimately to pass.
“DeMint had never been a bomb-thrower — he was much more careful with his rhetoric,” one former longtime DeMint aide told RCP. “Cruz will say whatever he needs to push the envelope as far as he can. Ted Cruz talks like he’s a walking direct-mail piece.”
According to several South Carolina politicos, Cruz’s tight-knit inner circle has not yet reached out to members of the state’s GOP consultant class, many of whom have in the past been highly sought free agents, able to assist would-be candidates navigate the state’s quirky terrain ahead of each presidential cycle.
If Rubio is set to become the vaunted hero if the compromise holds, Cruz will be remembered, for better or worse, as the wrecking ball if it crumbles…
But while the adviser insisted Cruz’s position isn’t being calibrated with an eye toward a 2016 White House run, he concedes that being a leader of the opposition to “amnesty” would be helpful in early primary states like South Carolina, where the senator is scheduled to address a state GOP dinner on Friday. National Review reports that Cruz is seriously considering a presidential bid…
“Cruz opposing a security fix that’s needed in immigration reform won’t help,” said John McLaughlin, who conducted the March poll. “On the other hand, if like Sen. Rand Paul he is able to make important changes and helps fix a broken system, he may really boost his standing well beyond his Texas conservative base.”
But some of those who marshal the troops and resources in primary campaigns are not only standing in solidarity with Cruz but notably souring on Rubio.
There is a deeper problem, I think, with Cruz’s approach to the Senate, which has nothing to do with ideology. The contrast between him and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is telling. Paul is no less conservative than Cruz, but he is polite to a fault, soft spoken and gracious. These qualities serve him well, indeed making some strident positions seem less so. Moreover, Rand Paul is trying to accomplish something. He’s put forth a budget. He’s offered suggestions to amend the Gang of Eight’s immigration bill. He’s suggested reforms to our drug laws.
I don’t necessarily agree with his offerings, but he is trying to work within the Senate to accomplish his aims while being respectful and quite cagey. He is trying to expand the party’s reach. What exactly is Cruz doing affirmatively to aid the country, the conservative movement and the GOP? Yelling at people and voting no don’t qualify.
Cruz’s actions suggest an immaturity and lack of sophistication about conservative governance. He might want to apologize to his colleagues for betraying their confidence and sit down and think what it is he wants to do in the Senate. Obstruction is easy; governance is hard. And if the answer is that only hackneyed gestures (e.g. push for repealing Obamacare with a Dem Senate majority, but offer no alternative) that interest him, then the people of Texas are being shortchanged. Worse, he’s doing nothing to suggest he’s a man of stature and future leader in the party.
The media has typically toasted any Republican who is willing to criticize fellow Republicans. This has been true, at various times, of John McCain, Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, Richard Lugar, Jon Huntsman, Charlie Crist and Bob Bennett, among others. Of course, in such cases, it’s okay, because those politicians have criticized the Republican Party for being too extreme. They were attacking conservatives and fighting conservative ideas. So, when they were criticizing members of their party, they were truth tellers and reasonable Republicans.
So, Cruz’s sin wasn’t criticizing fellow Republicans. It was the fact that he was a conservative daring to criticize more moderate Republicans…
During the Bush era, Republicans controlled both chambers of Congress yet spending soared. Because there weren’t enough conservatives in the House or Senate to stand up to the Bush administration and Congressional leadership, Republicans rammed through the Medicare prescription drug plan and No Child Left behind, among other big government abominations. If more Republicans had Ted Cruz’s attitude back then, taxpayers and local school districts could have been spared from these programs.
A common wisecrack about senators is that they all want to run for president, so in that sense Cruz’s alleged ambitions are practically part of his job description. Still, it does seem just a little hasty for Cruz to be contemplating a run for the nation’s highest office less than five months into his first term in any office.
That’s where Obama’s example comes in. He joined the Senate in 2005 and started running for president not long thereafter. Granted, it wasn’t Obama’s first elected office; he’d been a state senator in Illinois for eight years before heading to Washington. But Cruz had worked in President George W. Bush’s administration for about three years, so he wasn’t exactly a government novice.
Obama helps Cruz in another important respect. Cruz was born in Canada to an American mother but a Cuban father, which would make him an inviting target for the sort of pseudo-experts in constitutional law who challenged Obama’s legitimacy. Remember, the fact that Obama’s father wasn’t a U.S. citizen supposedly made the president something other than a “natural-born citizen,” as required by the Constitution. But the “birther” movement has been so discredited, it would be hard for Democrats to revive those arguments against Cruz.
If the Internet’s really going to talk about this today, someone’s going to point out that Barack Obama, like Cruz, was a silver-tongued, nonwhite senator who ran for president before completing one term. This doesn’t do justice to Obama’s 2005-2007 ramp-up or take into account Obama’s problems as president. In 2005 and 2006, Obama looked for easy wins on legislation that would make him look bipartisan. You can probably rattle them off: He Worked With Tom Coburn on Earmark Transparency, He Worked With Richard Lugar to Track Down Loose Nukes. Obama entered the national consciousness as a “post-partisan” (and post-racial) character with lots of Republican friends.
Cruz has done the exact opposite. He’s irritated every Democrat—some, like Dianne Feinstein, he’s irritated at a deep, personal, public level—and he’s swiftly made enemies of Republicans like Lindsey Graham, who hint that the guy has no strategy or tact (at least when it comes to what Graham wants). Republicans tell themselves that their next president need only get 51 senators ready to repeal Obamacare, then sign the repeal bill. Assuming Cruz could win, how well could he navigate the legislature?
Conservatives have a hard theory about 2008 and 2012: They nominated moderates and lost to a radical. But George W. Bush ran as a center-right candidate, twice, and passed his major bills with Democratic buy-in. The people who’d back Cruz believe he could totally alter this paradigm. Good luck, I guess?
Fortunately, the Republican 2016 field thus far remains mercifully free of the charlatans and crackpots who came to the fore in 2012. The early field is intelligent and hard-working. Paul Ryan has immense policy knowledge, Ted Cruz is a brilliant litigator and debater, Marco Rubio has made himself central to the most important legislative initiative of the year. Even Rand Paul has carefully repositioned himself as a sober-minded U.S. Senator, distancing himself from paranoia and bigotry…
The confidence among conservatives that they speak for the silent American majority is fading, a casualty of the 2012 defeat. As a newly self-conscious minority, conservatives are turning their back on the executive branch and rediscovering a base of operations in Congress (where – let’s remember – conservatives predominated from the late 1930s until the early 1960s). The contest for the presidential nomination thus becomes less a vehicle for choosing a potential national leader, and more a theater for arguing movement themes.
If this hypothesis is correct, then Ted Cruz easily could emerge as the dominant figure of the 2016 cycle. Who argues better? And if conservatives have lost faith in their ability to win even if they compromise, as they believe they did in 2012, then why not go with the guy you really like, and who says most eloquently what you most want to hear?