Since playing a lead role in the government shutdown last fall, Cruz has joined with Republicans on fights ranging from the Internal Revenue Service’s scrutiny of conservative groups to the Obamacare contraception mandate. Cruz dined with McCain at the posh Capital Grille steakhouse. He cracked jokes with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) at last week’s State of the Union.
In an olive branch to his colleagues, Cruz privately assured them he wouldn’t raise money for a conservative group attacking GOP senators. And he even allowed the Senate to leave early for its Martin Luther King Jr. Day recess by dropping demands for what would have been a futile attempt to gut Obamacare.
It’s a sharp departure from his high-profile battles with his party last year over whether to confirm Chuck Hagel to lead the Pentagon, launch House-Senate budget negotiations and fund the government if Obamacare moved forward. And it’s a sign that Cruz — who has cast himself as an outsider battling the party establishment — is starting to develop an inside game in the clubby Senate, where relationships are important. …
“I like Ted,” Graham gushed last week. “And I think the confrontational style has been mitigated a bit. That’s not saying he’s abandoned what he believes, but I think he’s adjusted, and people who are smart enough to adjust will do very well.”