But some prominent South Carolina Republican financiers remain somewhat skeptical of Cruz’s ability to broaden his support and compete at the highest level of politics so soon in his career.
Ed McMullen, a Columbia-based public affairs executive and member of the Finance Advisory Committee for Gov. Nikki Haley’s likely 2014 re-election campaign, has met Cruz previously in Washington and plans to attend Friday’s event. But he believes the 2010 campaign marked the apex of the Tea Party in South Carolina and that Cruz would be wise to expand his message to an increasingly diverse primary electorate in the Palmetto State.
“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.”