Much of the political world went into full freakout mode yesterday as crusading conservative Ted Cruz became the first candidate from either of the major parties to formally announce he is running for president in 2016.
The ritual denunciations of Cruz, the junior Republican senator representing Texas, from all across the fruited plain quickly piled up. Since he assumed office in January 2013, Cruz has come under intense fire from the Left and from a few corners in the GOP. Some of the criticism is well thought out but much of it doesn’t rise above the level of schoolyard taunts. Some consider it a negative that Cruz, like Barack Obama, began running for president soon after becoming a U.S. senator.
His willingness to buck members of his own party –and to openly criticize other Republicans– when his conservative principles require it has won him legions of admirers across America, but few friends in official Washington. GOP leaders don’t like him because he questions what they stand for, tries to force them to honor their promises, calls them “squishes,” and works to derail their legislative priorities. He has even tried to engineer mini-rebellions in the House by whipping House members to vote against GOP leadership. Finding sympathetic lawmakers is like shooting fish in a barrel because Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) disappoints conservatives nearly every day.
To some, Cruz’s strengths are really weaknesses. His brash air of rectitude is arrogance. His eloquence is unctuousness. His unquestioned brilliance is viewed with suspicion.
Cruz put his oratorical gifts to use yesterday. In a moving, headline-grabbing speech at Liberty University in Virginia, unaccompanied by a teleprompter, Cruz talked about “reigniting the promise of America.”
“For so many Americans, the promise of America seems more and more distant. What is the promise of America? The idea that — the revolutionary idea that this country was founded upon, which is that our rights don’t come from man. They come from God Almighty. And that the purpose of the Constitution, as Thomas Jefferson put it, is to serve as chains to bind the mischief of government. The incredible opportunity of the American dream, what has enabled millions of people from all over the world to come to America with nothing and to achieve anything. And then the American exceptionalism that has made this nation a clarion voice for freedom in the world, a shining city on a hill. That’s the promise of America. That is what makes this nation an indispensable nation, a unique nation in the history of the world.”
To the delight of the conservative audience, Cruz promised to repeal Obamacare, abolish the Internal Revenue Service, oppose immigration amnesty, respect First and Second Amendment rights, fight for traditional marriage, repeal Common Core and embrace charter schools, combat Islamic terrorism, and steadfastly support Israel. “I believe in you,” Cruz said.
“I believe in the power of millions of courageous conservatives rising up to reignite the promise of America, and that is why today I am announcing that I’m running for president of the United States. It is a time for truth. It is a time for liberty. It is a time to reclaim the Constitution of the United States. I am honored to stand with each and every one of you courageous conservatives as we come together to reclaim the promise of America, to reclaim the mandate, the hope and opportunity for our children and our children’s children. We stand together for liberty. This is our fight. The answer will not come from Washington. It will come only from the men and women across this country, from men and women, from people of faith, from lovers of liberty, from people who respect the Constitution.”
The speech was well-received, even by many of Cruz’s detractors who acknowledge the former debating champion’s speaking skills.
It is no surprise that Democrat-turned-Republican political strategist Mark McKinnon has dubbed Cruz “the Republican Barack Obama.”
In 2013 Democratic strategist James Carville called him “the most talented and fearless Republican politician I’ve seen in the last 30 years.” Cruz is “perhaps the most influential freshman senator in American history. He’s going to run for president, and don’t be fooled — he is going to wreck [sic] havoc for years to come.”
The reaction to Cruz’s announcement largely mirrored reactions to Cruz’s first few months in the Senate — intense and overwhelmingly negative.
The media and other left-wingers spent all day yesterday mocking Cruz. At least one Republican office holder joined the ridicule fest.
On CNN Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), who himself is considering running for president, blasted Cruz, calling him a “big mouth” who “basically led the Republican Party over the cliff.”
“We have very, very complex issues facing the country today, and he goes out of his way to oversimplify,” the congressman said of Cruz. “Ted Cruz may be an intelligent person, but he doesn’t carry out an intelligent debate. He oversimplifies, he exaggerates … he doesn’t provide leadership and he has no real experience.”
King released a separate statement on Cruz’s famous talkathon in which he held the Senate floor for 21 hours in a long-shot bid to defund Obamacare.
“Shutting down the federal government and reading Dr. Seuss on the Senate floor are the marks of a carnival barker not the leader of the free world,” King wrote.
Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, a fellow Texas Republican, didn’t badmouth Cruz but made it clear he won’t be supporting him, at least not initially.
“You know, we’ve got a lot of Texans who are running for president, so I’m going to watch from the sidelines,” said Cornyn when asked if he would get behind Cruz. Cornyn, a member of the GOP establishment Cruz loves to hate, may have been referring to Rick Perry, a former Texas governor, who is also thinking about running for the presidency again.
Cornyn, who has amassed a huge campaign war chest, said “nope,” when asked if he would help Cruz financially. “You got a lot of people involved, and I don’t see any benefit to them or to me.”
A pro-amnesty, open borders group assailed Cruz, going as far as questioning his authenticity as a Latino.
“We reject Ted Cruz, which is sad, because while he is the first Latino to declare his candidacy, he may be the most anti-immigration candidate on stage during the debates,” said Cesar Vargas and Erika Andiola, co-directors of the Dream Action Coalition. “While Ted Cruz has a Latino name and immigration in his past, that’s where the similarities between him and the Latino community end.”
Jonathan Bernstein of Bloomberg News dismissively compared him to the late Sen. Joe McCarthy and labeled Cruz “a loudmouth loser.”
“Fortunately, Tailgunner Ted’s chances of winning the Republican nomination are extremely slim at best,” he wrote.
“The bottom line: Opposition from Republicans who care about winning in 2016 will doom the chances of a senator whose tactics (his role in the 2013 government shutdown, for example, and the recent Homeland Security funding fight) have established him as a loudmouth loser. They might look past the loudmouth part, but not the losses.”
On TV’s “The View,” guest co-host Michelle Collins declared herself a “Ted Cruz birther” and demanded to “see the birth certificate.” Cruz “was not born in America. He was born in Canada. So how can he run — how can he run for president? I actually don’t get it. I know he has to go to court.”
At the New Republic, Danny Vinik ridiculed the Texas senator in a piece titled “Ted Cruz Cannot Be Serious.”
“His positions, regardless of where they fall within the Republican Party, are ill-conceived fantasies,” he wrote.
Then Vinik engaged in what the Internet-savvy call “concern-trolling,” offering dubious campaign advice. Cruz wants to repeal the Obamacare law “and then basically see what happens … [this is] unacceptable as a presidential candidate’s health care agenda,” he pontificated. Repeal and replace is the only sensible route to take, he counseled.
Vinik pilloried Cruz for promising to abolish the IRS and not providing a detailed plan to reporters like him on the very first day of his official campaign. “A Cruz government would eliminate the agency but it would still collect taxes—somehow. Cruz has never said how that would work.”
Well, that’s what a campaign is for.
In a snotty column, John Cassidy of the New Yorker, called Cruz the “Texan terror” and wrote off his candidacy.
“The conventional wisdom is that Cruz hasn’t got a chance, and, as far as the Presidency goes, it’s probably accurate. To many Americans, he is the uppity loudmouth who, in the fall of 2013, less than a year into his first term as a senator, helped bring the federal government to a halt. Noted for railing against President Obama and denying the existence of climate change, he holds views that, according to an analysis by the Web site FiveThirtyEight, make him ‘more conservative than every recent G.O.P. nominee, every ’12 contender and every plausible ’16 candidate.'”
At Gizmodo, Adam Clark Estes implied Cruz was an idiot because he didn’t believe in the leftist fantasy known as manmade global warming.
“‘Ted Cruz is a climate change denier?’ you ask. Yes, he sure is. (Ted Cruz is also, very unfortunately, the overseer of NASA.) And just because the loud-mouthed Texan thinks he’s fit for the nation’s highest office doesn’t mean he’s going to yield his absurdly misled beliefs about the planet Earth.”
A New York Times article knocked Cruz’s performance as senator.
“Cruz has not been much of a law maker: He sponsored or co-sponsored 112 pieces of legislation, only one of which became law. Rather, he has made his mark trying to undo or gut administration policies with which he disagrees.”
But in a column on the same newspaper’s website, Jonathan Martin opined that Cruz has a serious shot at winning the presidency.
“By virtue of his strong rhetorical skills, biographical appeal and uncompromising conservatism, Mr. Cruz is the most logical nominee in a party that has turned sharply to the right. In a general election, fatigue toward the Obama years and the difficulty any party has in holding the White House for three consecutive terms could vault him to victory.”
Washington Post leftist Greg Sargent was amazingly restrained and thoughtful.
“But how different is Cruz from other Republicans on the issues themselves? How much of an outlier is Cruz in today’s GOP? Those are not rhetorical questions. A Cruz run will be a good thing, because it will bring clarity to them,” Sargent wrote.
“It’s good that Cruz is running,” he concluded. “We’ll hopefully find out soon enough how much of a conservative outlier Cruz really is in today’s Republican Party.”
It was just two years ago that Sargent was calling Cruz a demagogic nutjob.
Cruz “keeps untold numbers of base voters in a state of perpetual delusion,” he wrote soon after Cruz was sworn in as a member of the Senate.
He does this with “the hints about creeping socialism, the suggestions that Dems are anti-American, the notion that Obama’s modest executive actions reveal him as an enemy of the Constitution, etc.”
One of the co-founders of the modern American conservative movement, Richard A. Viguerie, chairman of ConservativeHQ.com, cheered Cruz’s early entry into the presidential contest.
The rest of the candidates will have to “move right to respond to Cruz, or be left behind by a grassroots conservative electorate fed-up with Republican candidates who are merely principle-free messengers for an out of touch Washington elite.”
Is America really ready for a swing to the right, Ted Cruz-style?
After eight years of Obama’s catastrophic presidency, voters just might be.
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