Ted Cruz, in summary, is best positioned to capture the Republican protest vote, and best positioned on the ground in primary states. He is also without doubt the most intelligent, literate and cultured person running for president, a former national debating champion, and a star student of the conservative philospher Robert George at Princeton as well as the liberal law professor Alan Dershowitz at Harvard. If I read him correctly, he has paced himself, allowing Donald Trump to grab the headlines, tipping his hat to this wild man of the Republican primaries by way of acknowledging the sympathy he has won from voters. Meanwhile has has spent most of his time building an organization on the ground, in preparation for the moment when the anti-Establishment vote fades. He carries none of the toxic baggage of the Republican foreign-policy establishment; on the contrary, he drew their ire for ridiculing the idea that the U.S, could turn Iraq into Switzerland.
There’s a case against Cruz, to be sure. Ronald Reagan is his political model, and he has watched so many Reagan speeches that he can do a persuasive Reagan impression. But in many ways he is still the tall, geeky bookworm who aced every exam and became every teacher’s pet and went through hell in junior high school. Ronald Reagan had a spontaneous wit and presence of mind. In February 1980, in a dispute with the moderator of a candidates’ debate, he stood up like a Hollywood sheriff at a Republican debate and declared, “I am paying for this microphone!” The voters saw the real Reagan all the time, and loved him. Cruz is studied, not spontaneous, and humor is not his strong suit. In some ways he evokes Richard Nixon more than Reagan.