It’s the worst kept secret in politics this weekend. Of course, when you’ve been in the eye of the media for more than a year as a possible POTUS candidate and you suddenly summon the Beltway paparazzi to your secret fortress at Liberty University on a Monday, it was going to be a tough cat to keep in the bag. Unless this is a stunt and the media elite have entirely missed the boat, Ted Cruz will skip the exploratory committee process entirely and announce his run for the White House tomorrow.
Sen. Ted Cruz plans to announce Monday that he will run for president of the United States, accelerating his already rapid three-year rise from a tea party insurgent in Texas into a divisive political force in Washington.
Cruz will launch a presidential bid outright rather than form an exploratory committee, said senior advisers with direct knowledge of his plans, who spoke on condition of anonymity because an official announcement had not been made yet. They say he is done exploring and is now ready to become the first Republican presidential candidate.
The senator is scheduled to speak Monday at a convocation ceremony at Liberty University in Virginia, where he is expected to declare his campaign for the presidency.
Before getting into this, the media spokesmodels may want to double check their figures one more time on this story. As it turns out, Cruz will be the second GOP candidate to announce. A careful reading of the news will show that Mark Everson announced his presidential bid on March 5th. Some of you may have missed that because you were busy saying, “Mark who?” But he was the IRS commissioner during part of George W. Bush’s term in office and he is officially in the race. (Before you object, I’m not counting Vermin Supreme. If he wins I will heartily apologize.)
But back to Senator Cruz. Watching the Sunday shows today I saw the most amusing set of reactions imaginable to this story. Some of them took the usual slant of describing Cruz as divisive or controversial or any other number of adjectives meant to paint him into the corner of the fringe. Questions abounded regarding why he should do it now. Why didn’t he wait longer? Why didn’t he do it sooner? (Yes, I heard both of those in the same thirty minute block.)
To be completely honest here, I spent quite a while last year thinking that Cruz was below dark horse status and probably wouldn’t even run. If he did, I assumed that he would be one of the “flavor of the month” candidates who would be pushed aside by a flood of establishment money or simply collapse under the weight of unforced errors. But the last few months have had me thinking differently. Cruz is nearly unshakable on the podium and gracious in interviews with even the most hostile press members. I’ve seriously yet to see him be put much off his game.
But why now? There’s an excellent reason. We have a parade of the expected, “legitimate” candidates who are waiting in the wings. (You can see up to twenty of them here in varying degrees of probability.) At least the top ten of them are people all of the donors are supposed to support. It’s who we expected to see all along. And there will be the usual circus of media events as each of them announces, with the usual traps of gotcha questions and ghosts from the past. But for the moment, nobody else among the big names has moved their first piece on the board. This will give the media the perfect opportunity to open up with both barrels and hit Cruz with everything they’ve got. (Insert your own “Cruz Missiles” joke here.)
From what I’ve seen thus far, Ted will probably shake them off. If there was a huge scandal waiting to be revealed we’d have seen it by now, so they’ll want to see him stumble under intense questioning. As I mentioned above, I’m beginning to suspect that it won’t happen. And if it doesn’t, the wavering donors who aren’t feeling all that comfortable about Jeb, Christie or Walker may see a new place to invest. That’s the kind of tectonic shift Cruz will need to bump his poll numbers up out of the single digits. And once that happens, all bets are off.
Ted Cruz needs a trial by fire under everything the media will throw at him. It was coming anyway, so why not do it before the rest of the show ponies come into the ring? The timing of this announcement may turn out to be a master stroke.