Cruz: You'd better believe the nuclear option's on the table for Gorsuch

Will the Senate go nuclear? Get ready for an epic battle, Ted Cruz warned — and that was before CNN announced its latest event, as well as before Donald Trump’s big reveal last night. Cruz told Politico a few hours before Trump announced Neil Gorsuch as his pick for the Supreme Court that he would push for the precedent change that would eliminate the filibuster for Supreme Court confirmations if Democrats obstructed Trump’s nominee. Not everyone in the Senate Republican caucus was as enthusiastic to discuss the option, however:

The Texas senator said in an interview that no matter what they try, Democrats will not be able to stop Trump’s nominee — and said that the GOP should not shy away from changing the filibuster’s 60-vote threshold on high court nominees if need be.

“The Democrats are not going to succeed in filibustering the Supreme Court nominee,” Cruz said on Tuesday. “All procedural options are on the table. The bottom line is we will confirm a strong conservative to replace Justice Scalia.” …

“We need to have a Supreme Court justice and that’s going to be our goal. I don’t think tactics are what we’re talking about now,” said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), who is close to McConnell. “I just don’t think we are there discussing it seriously yet.”

Moore Capito might have the better argument here. More and more red-state Senate Democrats are signaling that they will allow a floor vote for Gorsuch, and a couple of them are flat-out arguing against obstruction. Here’s Joe Manchin, for instance, scolding colleagues who are starting out aiming at obstruction, even before knowing who the nominee is — and scolding Republicans for doing the same thing to Merrick Garland:

It’s interesting to note that Manchin flipped the question Geist asked about the nuclear option, choosing to criticize Harry Reid for setting the precedent rather than pre-emptively attack Republicans for following it. He doesn’t want to give the GOP any excuses in the same way his fellow West Virginia Senator doesn’t want to provoke Democrats. For Star Trek:TOS fans, it’s as if West Virginia just became Organia.

What will Cruz do if the fight he envisions never develops? Fear not — CNN has arranged for a political Thunderdome next week:

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) will go to battle next week in a debate over the future of ObamaCare.

Sanders and Cruz, who both ran for their party’s nomination in the 2016 presidential race, will square off in a debate airing on CNN next Tuesday, Feb. 7 at 9 p.m.

The debate will be moderated by CNN’s Jake Tapper and Dana Bash. The debate comes as Republicans in Congress craft a plan to repeal and replace former President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law.

That should be epic … and epically one-sided. Ted Cruz absolutely opposes ObamaCare, while Bernie Sanders … also opposes ObamaCare. Don’t forget that Sanders spent the last two years campaigning on a “Medicare for all” platform, arguing that ObamaCare was a crony-capitalism bonanza for insurance companies. Sanders will argue for a single-payer system, while Cruz gets to argue for free-market solutions. On top of that, Cruz is an expert debater, while Sanders managed to match up against the less-than-scintillating Hillary Clinton for a series of late-night snoozers over the past eighteen months. Hopefully CNN will have a towel handy to throw into the ring, because this fight won’t last all fifteen rounds.