The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) just held its winter meeting here, and the wealthy beachfront communities that dot the coast are typically considered one of the beating hearts of the Establishment GOP’s donor community.

Tonight, though, it’s Cruz country.

An event originally scheduled as a small rally for potential 2016 presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) mushroomed into a major political event after nearly 2,000 people RSVP’d online…

“If you have a single candidate rally and you get 500 people in the room, it’s a great day,” Gruters said. “To have almost 2,000 in the room for a single candidate—it’s amazing.”

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“Do not trust anyone who says they are trying to defeat ‘establishment Republicans,’” she added.

Without mentioning Cruz by name, Coulter railed against tea partiers who fail to understand that the “only way to repeal Obamacare is to elect Republicans.”

“It is not to be fighting against Republicans,” she said.

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Freshman Senator Ted Cruz says many things that need to be said and says them well. Moreover, some of these things are what many, if not most, Americans believe wholeheartedly. Yet we need to remember that the same was true of another freshman Senator, just a relatively few years ago, who parlayed his ability to say things that resonated with the voters into two terms in the White House. Who would disagree that if you want your doctor, you should be able to keep your doctor? Who would disagree with the idea of a more transparent administration in Washington, or a President of the United States being a uniter instead of a divider?…

Senator Ted Cruz has not yet reached the point where he can make policy, rather than just make political trouble. But there are already disquieting signs that he is looking out for Ted Cruz — even if that sets back the causes he claims to be serving

The most charitable interpretation of Ted Cruz and his supporters is that they are willing to see the Republican Party weakened in the short run, in hopes that they will be able to take it over in the long run, and set it on a different path as a more purified conservative party.

Like many political ideas, this one is not new. It represents a political strategy that was tried long ago — and failed long ago.

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Senator Ted Cruz (R., Texas) may be the brightest light to adorn the Republican party in many years. He knows how to make the case for conservative ideas, pointing, for example, to the contrasting fates of Detroit and Houston to illustrate the superiority of conservative policies. So it’s particularly galling to see that rather than train his fire at Obama and the liberal machine that cocoons him, Cruz has become a one-man wrecking ball against Republicans

Cruz stoked the shutdown fever, while his aide called other Republicans the “surrender caucus.” Cruz’s allies threatened to primary senators who objected. In the end, the shutdown cratered the Republican party’s popularity and forced them to accept the same deal they could have had in September. That the deal wasn’t worse is a tribute to the much-scorned Boehner and McConnell. If senators are going to face primaries for their votes, Cruz should be among them, because after fulminating for three weeks, he too voted to fund the government.

Senator Cruz has many gifts. He’s a skilled rhetorical marksman (if no tactician), but by firing at his own side, he may be doing more damage to the Republican party than any Democrat has done.

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ABC News’ Jonathan Karl told a panel on Sunday’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is so hated by fellow Republicans these days that he will “need a food taster” at weekly Senate lunches.

Karl’s comments came during a discussion surrounding debt ceiling increases and Cruz’ actions against them: “I’ll tell you, Ted Cruz is so hated among his Republicans,” Karl said. “Now more so than even during the shutdown, at that…lunch they have every Tuesday, he’s going to need a food taster.”

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There’s a new dividing line in the conservative movement—between a majority who’d like to win against President Obama, and a handful who’d like to win some scalps

Members of Congress routinely cook up situations that force opposing parties to take “tough votes.” This may be the first time a senator did so solely to damage his own party. It may also be the first time a senator has used the privileges afforded him under Senate rules to benefit a small and coordinated band of conservative campaign groups. Their No. 1 target is Mr. McConnell, who Mr. Cruz hasn’t forgiven for failing to embrace his damaging shutdown…

Mr. McConnell holds the same positions as Mr. Cruz on spending, ObamaCare, gun control, etc. His sin? He has refused to ask Republicans to run into the Obama fixed bayonets, a la the Cruz shutdown. Groups like SCF and Heritage Action want to replace the leadership with more of their own kamikaze caucus. They also understand there are far more fundraising dollars and media attention in attacking fellow conservatives.

Republicans have fumbled their last two Senate takeover chances, mostly thanks to infighting. But this latest movement—to take down incumbents over tactics—is a new low. If the GOP remains a minority, this will be why.

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The senator tells me he hasn’t talked with anyone in Senate Republican leadership since the debt-ceiling vote

I ask if — assuming McConnell wins reelection — the Texan will vote for him as the Republican leader for the next Congress.

Cruz pauses.

“I’m going to leave that election and every other incumbent Republican election to the voters of their respective states,” he says.

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It was also just three months ago that Senator McConnell was telling us how critical the 60-vote standard was to making the Senate the world’s greatest deliberative body. Yet, when it came time for the debt-ceiling fight, he was ready to waive it faster than an Obamacare mandate. Fortunately for transparency — meaning, unfortunately for the GOP — it was not his to waive. The rules give every senator the power to call for the supermajority vote. That is all Cruz did: no threats to shut down the government, just a call for his tough-talking Republican colleagues to put up or shut up…

Engaged conservatives are on to the ruse. Notwithstanding the Republican establishment’s campaign to marginalize them as what the Journal obligingly labels a “rump kamikaze caucus,” their ranks are swelling. Without them, the Republicans would not have recaptured the House in 2010. Increasingly, they mount primary challenges against Beltway relics. They don’t win all the time, but they win quite a few — like long-shot Ted Cruz’s stunning primary rout over the party’s preferred candidate. And there is a more serious danger for GOP leadership: The conservative base increasingly wears the establishment’s disdain as a badge of honor.

Beltway Republicans do not seem to grasp how ominous this is. They so crave pats on the head from the “let’s make government work” commentariat that they’ve lost any feel for people who are wired differently, who see government as the problem, and who want it substantially downsized. In the end, the “let’s make government work” crowd is with the Democrats; the “kamikazes” are the ones the GOP must have. Condescension toward the customer is never a particularly good business strategy.

It is fitting that the 60-vote standard Republican leaders told us they needed just a few weeks ago was thrust on them in the matter of debt. They are living on borrowed time.

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[T]his is really about what it has always been about: what kind of purity we’re going to unify behind. And make no mistake, the establishment’s own brand of “purity” is precisely what these attacks on Cruz are about.

The most charitable interpretation of Sowell’s position is this: he seems to be on board with those who believe that if we could bite our tongues and just join forces long enough to provide a unified front, that we could win some elections and start pushing some reforms. That, while in the short term some of the alliances and concessions would be painful, they’re worth it for the overall common purpose. And he’s right that that’s what has to happen.

Unfortunately, as is always the case with the so-called Establishment (though less often with Sowell who I’ve rarely seen take such a strong position in their favor), they believe they have the monopoly on what that common purpose is. As far as “they” are concerned, the common purpose has already been vetted, printed, and handed out. Get on board or you’re inadvertently helping the Nazis.

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He’s clearly smart, and he thinks a lot about strategy. He has no known demons that would drive him to self-sabotage. Yet since being sworn in last year, he has fallen on his sword several times for highly dubious reasons.

So, why do it?…

Cruz is perfectly capable of being polite, in other words. The fact that he sometimes chooses not to be made me suspect that his tendency to flout his senior colleagues in the Senate isn’t simply Tea Party umbrage about politics as usual. Of course, political calculations may well have something to do with it; Congress does have a 13 percent approval rating. But it’s hard to see a strategy behind something like last week’s dustup. Instead, it seems to point to a real idiosyncrasy that this otherwise disciplined operator can’t or won’t bother to conceal: a suspicion of authority, a distaste for being scolded about etiquette or a sincere disdain for politicians who strike him as craven or chicken…

Cruz will, no doubt, win some fights in his political career. He will also lose some, as he did often last year. He is, after all, a junior member of the Senate’s minority party. And maybe he has won something big already: If senior Republicans won’t stand up to him when they disagree with him, doesn’t that say as much about them as it does about him?

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