Despite jabs and attacks, GOP hawks take a second look at Ted Cruz

There are three reasons why Cruz is attracting some soft support from neoconservatives. To start, it’s Cruz’s pedigree. With degrees from Harvard and Princeton, some think he can’t possibly be serious about some of his more extreme statements. (During his first campaign, he launched a scathing attack on the Council on Foreign Relations as a “pit of vipers,” neglecting to note that his wife had been an active member of the group.)

“What gives people pause is the credentials. That is, wait a minute, this guy went to Princeton and Harvard Law School and you have Alan Dershowitz saying he’s one of the most brilliant students I ever had in 30 years at Harvard Law School, and you’re telling me he sees the world the way Donald Trump does? Is that really credible?” Abrams asked rhetorically.

Cruz also has skillfully kept channels to key neoconservatives open throughout the campaign season. His top foreign policy adviser, Victoria Coates, is a former aide to Donald Rumsfeld and is respected inside the party.

And finally, when compared to Trump’s rhetoric about foreign affairs, Cruz is considered the lesser of two evils.

Cruz has sought to position himself as a kind of foreign policy centrist — defined neither by the retreat from foreign entanglement advocated by Rand Paul, nor by the interventionism that brought the Iraq War — though he would compensate with sheer ferocity, promising to “carpet bomb” ISIS to see if “sand can glow in the dark.”