Quotes of the day

On Monday, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, went to the floor of the Senate to keep a promise he made to the American people: to fight to keep Congress from funding Planned Parenthood. He also sought to prevent Iran, a known sponsor of terrorism, from accessing more than $100 billion, which he pointed out would be used to fund more terrorist activities.

In his one-hour remarks, Cruz outlined how Republican Leadership has failed to lead on the issues important to the Americans who elected them to office. By immediately giving in to the demands of the Democrats, Republican leadership effectively joined with them and President Obama to fund their priorities. Despite his colleagues’ frequent claims of wanting to defund Planned Parenthood and deny Iran money to support terrorism, not one made any attempt to back up their words with deeds. Instead, each sided with leadership’s plan to surrender to the Democrats.

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On Monday night, Cruz’s colleagues ignored his attempt to disrupt Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s efforts to fund the government without attacking Planned Parenthood. In an unusual rebuke, even fellow Republicans denied him a “sufficient second” that would have allowed him a roll call vote

Cruz was incredulous on Monday, calling it an “unprecedented procedural trick.”

“What does denying a second mean? Denying a recorded vote. Why is that important?” Cruz said. “When you are breaking the commitment you’ve made to the men and women who elected you, the most painful thing in the world is accountability.”

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Democratic donors, Cruz said, don’t hate the liberal base, but Republican donors “actively despise” conservatives.

“On the Democratic side, the major donors that fund the Democratic Party, they don’t despise their base. The billionaires who write the giant checks that fund President Obama and Hillary Clinton and the Democrats on that side of the aisle, they don’t despise the radical gay rights movement or the radical environmentalist movement or all of the people that knock on doors and get Democrats elected,” Cruz said…

“I can tell you when you sit down and talk with a New York billionaire Republican donor — and I have talked with quite a few New York billionaire Republican donors, California Republican donors, their questions start out as follows,” Cruz said. “First of all, you’ve got to come out for gay marriage, you need to be pro-choice, and you need to support amnesty. That’s where the Republican donors are. You wonder why Republicans won’t fight on any of these issues? Because the people writing the checks agree with the Democrats.”‘

Those donors, Cruz added, also view the people who elected the Republican majorities in Congress “as a bunch of ignorant hicks and rubes.”

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Sen. Ted Cruz won the Values Voter Summit straw poll for the third year in a row on Saturday, a strong showing of support from evangelical voters for his 2016 presidential bid.

The firebrand Texas senator won a whopping 35 percent in the poll of summit-goers, ahead of runner-up Ben Carson’s 18 percent. That margin is significantly wider than last year, where he edged out Carson by just 5 percentage points…

Sen. Cruz continues to just understand these audiences. He connects well with these primary voters and he really doesn’t misstep,” he said. 

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Cruz’s supporters see the showdown in Congress over Planned Parenthood and the budget — which kicks into high gear this week and could stretch into the winter, on the cusp of voting in early states — as a critical opening for the first-term lawmaker. With the spotlight focused on Congress, they say, it will allow Cruz to make a sustained case to tea party and evangelical voters that he’s the one candidate doing battle in the trenches for their causes, just as many of them are picking a horse in the race. The goal, he and allies stop just short of saying, is to expose his chief competitors for the outsider mantle as pretenders by comparison.

“Every election we see campaign conservatives who talk a good game on the campaign trail, and yet haven’t walked the walk,” Cruz told POLITICO in an interview last week. “The clearest distinction is that, of the Republican candidates running, I am the only consistent conservative who on issue after issue after issue has been the same yesterday, today, tomorrow.”…

Other Republicans, however, warn that the fiscal fights this fall could define Cruz — whose time in Congress is best known for the two-week government shutdown he helped instigate in 2013, and the routine ire he draws from his Senate colleagues — as too doctrinaire and too much of a pariah within his own party to win a general election. Flirting with a second government shutdown in as many years is a risky play for a candidate with any hope of being more than just a favorite of the far right…

“To win the White House you have to be able to carry purple states,” McConnell said when asked about the race to the right in the GOP. “I hope for a nominee that can appeal to an electorate that is not locked into either side.”

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It is also one way, to be sure, for Cruz, who refuses to criticize Trump, and even has invited him to rallies, to distinguish himself from the mogul without making it an overt showdown

It could make the Texas Republican, who’s serving his first term in the Senate, seem too far outside the Beltway to have a real shot at winning the primary and the general election.

“For the short term, it sets him apart, but in the long term, it could come back on him,” said Kim Reem, head of the Iowa Federation of Republican Women, according to Politico. “The people more to the middle that he’d need to win the presidency may very well say, ‘Well, I’m not likely to support you that way because I don’t like how you handled [this].’”

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Gallup has found that wealthier people are more likely to support the right to an abortion — regardless of party. That holds true with same-sex marriage as well.

In other words, the split in the Republican party might also be between economic groups — with the wealthier group also being more likely to be the ones giving money.

That doesn’t detract from Cruz’s point as much as it might help explain it. Cruz is arguing that rank-and-file Republicans largely want their representatives to oppose abortion — though, that Quinnipiac poll shows, not shut down the government over it — and to oppose same-sex marriage. But they’re not the ones writing the checks, so elected Republicans have been disinclined to take a hard line, particularly given that Democrats in the Senate still have veto power (as does President Obama).

Cruz is being savvy in another way, too. He’s almost Trumpian in how he talks about his relationships with donors and how he defies them in support of the Average Joe GOPer. Cruz raises a valid and interesting point…

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In the aftermath of the debate, Cruz’s campaign sent out a volley of press releases with similar subject lines: “Ted Cruz Has Been Leading the Fight to Stop the Nuclear Iran Deal,” “…to Secure the Border,” “…Against Judicial Activism”, “…to Restore the Constitution and End Obama’s Overreach,” “…to Protect the Unborn and Defund Planned Parenthood.” Without even reading the releases, you can discern the intended message: Cruz has already been leading all these fights that conservatives are clamoring for, and that competitors are vowing to wage.

It’s a tricky message, in a cycle in which the three most popular Republican candidates are the three with no experience whatsoever in elective office, and the first two candidates to drop out—Rick Perry and Scott Walker—had led various conservative fights for years, in their capacity as governors of Texas and Wisconsin respectively. And on the merits it should be especially tricky for Cruz to go on the offense against Trump, who is the obvious referent of the “campaign conservatives” euphemism quoted above. No candidate has been cozier with Trump than Cruz. In “leading the fight” against the Iran deal, for example, Cruz’s credentials include inviting the frontrunner to join him at the rally he organized in August. I continue to think that you could lose a lot of money betting against Cruz’s long game. But there’s walking a tightrope, and then there’s Cirque du Soleil.

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More broadly, the fall of Boehner and the rise of Cruz are yet another sign of the profound cultural and political change in Washington over the past decade that has made pragmatists — even deeply conservative pragmatists like Boehner — an endangered species, and shifted power to those on the extremes, who command attention and therefore the power to sway votes through the media and social media by their ideology and the quality of their theatrical performance — in Cruz’s case mostly his marathon speech — rather than by their legislative prowess.

When Boehner began his career as a legislator, in Ohio’s State Assembly, Cruz was a teenage ideologue — a whiz kid member of the “Free Enterprise Institute” in Houston, where they studied conservative giants like Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayek the way rabbinical students tackle the Talmud. He was a student at Princeton and then Harvard Law School when Boehner was the fourth-ranking House Republican.

“The institutional contrast between Cruz and Speaker Boehner is stunning,” said congressional scholar Sarah Binder, of George Washington University and the Brookings Institution. “The upstart Cruz who builds his power on the outside and pressures those within versus Boehner who built his power from within the institution — as both committee and party leader. At the end of the day, Boehner has been a lawmaker at heart…. We don’t really use the old ‘work horse vs. showhorse’ distinction across lawmakers anymore, but it seems apt in a way to tap the differences between Boehner and Cruz,” she said in an e-mail interview with The Washington Post…

Boehner leaves his job as a defeated man. Cruz has bolstered his standing on the right.

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Via MFP.

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