GOP pins health-care hopes on an unlikely figure: Ted Cruz

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — a man Cruz once derided as a liar and an ally of Democrats — is counting on the Texan to help navigate an Obamacare repeal bill through the Senate with virtually no margin for error. As a trusted voice of the conservative wing of the GOP and conduit to the House Freedom Caucus, Cruz is fast emerging as a pivotal player in the Republican bid to do away with the landmark Democratic health care law.

It’s a stunning transformation for a senator who was widely blamed for causing the 2013 government shutdown in an attempt to defund Obamacare. But after receiving so much blowback for that and many other episodes, there’s nary a Cruz critic in the Senate Republican Conference nowadays.

“He’s trying to get a result. And as smart as he is, he can be a real force in making that happen,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), who chairs a key Senate health care committee and is close to McConnell. “If we’re able to come to a result in the Republican caucus, I’ll be glad to give him a lot of the credit.”…

“Different circumstances call for different approaches,” said Cruz, who is gearing up to run for a second term next year in a closely watched race. “Now our job is to deliver on the promises. And that’s a markedly different role than trying to prevent harmful policies from an imperial president.”