How Ted Cruz loses friends and influences people

On the stump, Cruz mocks Dole, McCain and Romney by asking if anyone remembers their presidencies, saying that it will take an uncompromising conservative to win a presidential election.

All of this is deliberate. As the National Review’s Eliana Johnson wrote this month, Cruz came to Washington in 2016 “to make enemies of his fellow senators, and friends — fans — among the conservative grassroots.” Amanda Carpenter, Cruz’s former communications director, largely agrees. She told me “Cruz did not come into the Senate wanting to attack his Republican colleagues as frauds, but given their tactics he felt he had no choice.”

Other conservatives are less charitable. Grover Norquist, the founder and president of Americans for Tax Reform, has not yet endorsed a candidate. He acknowledged the frustration that Cruz’s supporters share with their candidate, but he also said they are attacking the wrong target if they blame Republican leaders. “People who went to high school would know the president gets a veto,” Norquist told me. He added that Cruz and his movement are effectively saying “Mitt Romney forgot to win the election in 2012.”

In most election years, Cruz’s positioning against his own party would fail.