In a move that only surprised people who assume there’s some limit to the ego of Ted Cruz (R-TX), the freshman senator from Texas has let it be known that he is considering running for president in 2016.
“If you don’t think this is real, then you’re not paying attention,” says a Republican insider. “Cruz already has grassroots on his side, and in this climate, that’s all he may need.”
“There’s not a lot of hesitation there,” adds a Cruz donor who has known the Texan for decades. “He’s fearless.”
There would definitely be a historical precedent for a Cruz candidacy, explains National Review Online’s Robert Costa:
His supporters argue that he’d be a Barry Goldwater type — a nominee who would rattle the Republican establishment and reconnect the party with its base – but with better electoral results.
It would be hard to get worse electoral results than Barry Goldwater, who only won 52 electoral votes and 38.5 percent of the popular vote. But that’s the kind of point you have to make when you discuss the potential presidential candidacy of Ted Cruz.
Cruz has the conspiratorial mindset of a Michele Bachmann (R-MN) with the Harvard education of a Mitt Romney. He won’t flutter out like a Rick Perry (R-TX), but he’ll charge full force into the GOP with rhetorical fury and unveiled disdain for his opponents.
And here’s why that would likely be a dream come true for Democrats.
Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr.com
Cruz Speaks For About 15 Percent Of The Population
Cruz spent last weekend taking credit — along with Mike Lee (R-UT) and Rand Paul (R-KY) — for killing the background check bill that 65 percent of the population wanted to see pass. Cruz is against expanding background checks, a position that he shares with between 10 and 15 percent of the public. He is also against abortion even in cases of rape and incest — a position that 14 percent of Americans supported in a poll last year.
The problem for the GOP is the tiny fraction of America that agrees with Cruz makes up a huge chunk of their primary voters.
The Primary Would Be Brutal — Especially For The GOP’s One Electable Candidate
Cruz took on the Texas GOP establishment candidate in the 2010 U.S. Senate primary and crushed him. He’s fond of bashing his fellow Republicans when it serves him. For instance, in the clip above, he calls them “squishes.”
He is backed by major Republican fundraisers, much the way Newt Gingrich was backed by Sheldon Adelson in 2012. While Newt wasn’t able to defeat Romney, his Bain attack made Romney’s business record fair game for the Obama campaign.
Cruz would likely have no qualms about taking shots at Republican New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who has supported limited gun reforms and isn’t scared of Sharia law. Even if Cruz doesn’t win the primary, he can certainly do some serious damage to a blue-state governor who doesn’t think Obama is the devil and commits the cardinal Republican sin of being electable.
Cruz Will Have A Hard Time Raising Money In New York
Ted Cruz voted against relief for the victims of Hurricane Sandy but called for “all available resources” for the victims of the West, Texas factory explosion (which looks to be the direct result of the kind of lax government oversight the senator endorses).
Mitt Romney was able to be competitive as a fundraiser because of tremendous support from Wall Street. After Marco Rubio (R-FL) voted against relief for those in the Mid-Atlantic states, Peter King (R-NY) told him he could “forget” coming to New York City to raise money. You’d have to assume Cruz might suffer the same fate.
He May Do Worse With Latinos Than Mitt Romney
The New York Times’ Nate Silver looked at immigration reform and found that it could be a bonanza for Republicans if they can pull it off without alienating their white base. They also need to pull it off without further alienating Latinos who voted for Mitt Romney in smaller numbers than they voted for John McCain, who they voted for in smaller numbers than George W. Bush.
Cruz believes President Obama wants to kill immigration reform to give Democrats something to campaign on in 2014 and 2016. He says that Obama is doing this by insisting on a “path to citizenship,” which 66 percent of voters said they wanted in a January Fox News poll. The truth is, Cruz looks to be joining Rand Paul, Mike Lee and Jeff Sessions (R-AL) in an effort to destroy reform they same way they blocked background checks.
If Republicans block immigration reform with two other 2016 frontrunners, Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan (R-WI), leading the charge and doing it in a way that alienates Latinos as they did in 2007, even Cruz’s Texas may go blue in one of the next few presidential elections.
And the greatest irony of this is that Cruz — who is of Cuban descent — may face his own “birthers” because he was born in Canada to an American-citizen mother.
AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File
Cruz Loves To Offend
In confirmation hearings, Cruz suggested the future Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel might be on the payroll of North Korea or Iran. This won the junior senator comparisons to red-baiting senator Joseph McCarthy, which he seemed to relish. He says he’s very, very proud of being known as a “wacko bird.”
Last weekend, he called the families of Newtown victims who volunteered to fight for gun reform “props” and was denied the chance to bring his own gun as a prop to a Senate hearing.
All of this makes him very popular with the Republican base, but it’s likely wearing even on his Senate colleagues. However, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) knows that Cruz could end his career by simply endorsing any potential McConnell primary opponent. We’ll see how cute McConnell thinks Cruz is once his primary is settled.
Being hated by your opponents is enough to make you a Republican hero, but the GOP needs someone who at least pretends to believe in the dignity of all Americans. “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice” — it’s also no way to win the White House after you’ve lost five out of six popular elections. Then again, if Hillary Clinton runs, some Republican is likely going to get Goldwater-ed anyway.