Can Ted Cruz appeal to moderate Republicans?

When Sen. Ted Cruz is unplugged from the stump—when he’s talking to the donor class, not the working one—he sounds a lot more like his pedigree. Or at least that’s what’s on the grapevine. “Our little bird says that when addressing Manhattan donors, Cruz strikes a more moderate and inclusive tone on social issues than he does when speaking to Iowa audiences. Some donors say that New York Cruz sounds different than Iowa Cruz,” writes Mike Allen for Politico.

If true, this is obviously a problem for the Texas senator—a GOP analogue to Barack Obama’s infamous moment in the 2008 primary, recorded during an ostensibly private fundraiser in San Francisco, when he told listeners how, when “you go into some of these small towns, and … the jobs have been gone now for 25 years … it’s not surprising [working-class voters] get bitter; they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them … as a way to explain their frustrations.”

We can talk about Cruz’s approach to Big Apple GOP donors as a gaffe, but it’s more interesting to look at it as a symbol of his unusual and dynamic place in the Republican presidential primary.