How Ted Cruz has wooed some of the GOP's top donors

Cruz has also sold donors on precisely the behavior that has turned off so many Washington insiders: his willingness to obstruct, grandstand, and point fingers. Ticking through his Republican challengers, says Conway, the senator reminds donors that “everybody else has disappointed you in one way or another.” Marco Rubio buckled on immigration. Scott Walker went soft on abortion. Jeb Bush sinned on Common Core. “You need a conservative president who won’t betray you,” Conway says, paraphrasing Cruz.

The senator also points to his willingness “to stand in a crowd of a few or even a crowd of one when it comes to executing the promises we all make to get to Washington,” Conway says. When it came time to stand against the “final funding” of Obamacare, she notes, “there was only one person who stood on his feet for 21 hours.” This, of course, is a reference to the marathon speech Cruz mounted in an attempt to prevent funds from flowing to the health-care law. In the wake of this speech, Cruz became associated with the government shutdown that followed. “The grassroots love me,” he says, in Conway’s telling. “It’s the same reason the Washington establishment doesn’t care for me.”

As a first-term senator — Cruz was elected in 2012 — he has sought to allay concerns among donors about whether he has the requisite experience to be president. He’s talked about his years serving as solicitor general of Texas and claimed credit for victories on a number of important conservative issues: successfully defending the constitutionality of Texas’s Ten Commandments monument and of the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, and the Second Amendment’s applicability to federal property in District of Columbia v. Heller.