If you think Cruz’s success irritated Mike Huckabee before, wait until he sees this play for southern authenticity. Where does a damned Canadian get off hunting duck with the Robertsons?
Huckabee on Cruz's eligibility: "It's an issue that should give everybody a little concern. It's got to be dealt with."
— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) January 13, 2016
Hard to watch this and not wonder if Cruz’s dig at Trump for embodying “New York values” wasn’t more carefully scripted than it seemed. It’s also further evidence after that spot about lawyers and journalists crossing the Rio Grande that Team Cruz has settled on humor as an ad strategy. That’s not just because they’re good at it, I take it, but because it helps soften Cruz’s image as a bomb-thrower prone to criticizing the left in apocalyptic tones. In fact, you can enjoy this ad on two levels. If you don’t know much about Cruz, Robertson’s support suggests he’s enough of a salt-of-the-earth guy to relish a duck hunt. If you do know much about Cruz, you can laugh at the image of the buttoned-down Harvard Law egghead in face paint and camo in a duck blind with Phil Robertson. (Andrew Kaczynski dubs Cruz’s get-up here “Zero Dark Nerdy.”) I think this is Team Cruz knowingly winking at the culture clash between his elite northeastern education and the southern populist voters he’s appealing to. It’s awkward, and charming because of the awkwardness. And the implicit message is clear: How could you doubt Ted Cruz’s godly rural authenticity if Phil Robertson doesn’t?
I don’t know how Trump out-southerns this, unless he’s prepared to reverse himself on the Confederate flag. Speaking of populism and blue-collar authenticity, in lieu of an exit question, try to guess who recently said this:
“As a party we speak a lot about deregulation and tax policy, and you know what? People have been hearing that for 25 years and they’re getting tired of that message,” [he] said in a recent interview. He added, “I think we’re nuts not to raise the minimum wage. I think as a party, to say we’re trying to help the middle class of America and the poor and not raise the minimum wage sends exactly the wrong signal.”
Sounds a bit like Mike Huckabee or John Kasich, except even further left in the exasperation expressed over Republicans refusing to raise the minimum wage. Give up? It’s … Mitt Romney. Yes, really — Mr. “47 Percent” himself, whose nominating convention was a tribute to entrepreneurship rather than wage-earning, and whose severe conservatism evidently doesn’t extend to basic right-wing dogma about wage effects on unemployment. You can always trust Mitt to find a talking point that would have helped him politically three or four years after the fact. A little duck-hunting with Phil Robertson in 2012 might have helped.