Ted Cruz presidential race 2016: Whose worst nightmare?

Some conservative leaders reportedly are urging Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas to run for president in 2016. That could be a nightmare for either Democrats, other Republicans, or even Cruz himself.

Deborah Cannon/Austin American-Statesman/AP
Senator Ted Cruz speaks during a news conference at the Capitol in Austin, Texas, last month. Cruz is thinking about running for president in 2016, according to a report in the National Review.

Fiery Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas is thinking about running for president in 2016, according to a report in the National Review. The freshman lawmaker may have been in office only four months, but he has risen quickly to national prominence, and some conservative leaders are privately pushing him to run, reports NR’s Robert Costa.

“There’s not a lot of hesitation there,” says one Cruz donor quoted by Mr. Costa. “He’s fearless”.

Wow – a Cruz run would shake up the race, wouldn’t it? If nothing else a Cruz candidacy would provide the media with lots of spicy stories. This is a guy who’s irritated longtime Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California with what she took to be condescending remarks, charged that Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel may have taken money from foreign governments, and recently called some of his Republican colleagues “squishes” in remarks to a Texas tea party gathering.

The latter led conservative Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin to label Senator Cruz as immature and unsophisticated about the governance of the nation.

“There is being principled, and then there is being a jerk,” Ms. Rubin wrote this week.

Of course, Cruz supporters might label Rubin, a committed supporter of Mitt Romney’s presidential bid, as an accommodator who’s hurting the party from within. Clearly a Cruz candidacy would be somebody’s worst political nightmare. The question is whose. We’ll look at three scenarios:


His supporters say Cruz would be the scourge of the Democrats, a Barry Goldwater truth-teller who’d actually draw votes. In their view, the GOP has been captured by establishment big-government types who aren’t interested in shrinking federal spending or reducing Washington’s influence.

Cruz and fellow tea party favorites Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Rand Paul of Kentucky are a Republican solution, not a problem, writes conservative pundit Erick Erickson at RedState today. If it was not for them, in Mr. Erickson’s view, the recently defeated Senate gun control bill would have become law.

“Those on the right who attack and assail them for daring to fight for their beliefs while in the Gomorrah that is our nation’s capital are the problem,” writes Erickson.

Other Republicans'

See above. The rest of the GOP might groan if Cruz entered the race. He’d certainly be a foil for Chris Christie – can’t you already see them shouting at each other over whether the New Jersey governor should have praised President Obama’s efforts in the wake of superstorm Sandy? And Cruz would compete with Rand Paul, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Rick Santorum, and probably others for the role of chief conservative contender. Immigration, an issue on which Cruz is to the right of Rubio, would become even more important.

“How excited do you think establishment Republicans will be after all the post-2012 wooing of Latino voters to see the primaries turn into a referendum on whether the party betrayed conservatism by supporting a path to citizenship?” writes Allapundit today on the conservative site Hot Air!.

His own

It’s also possible that Cruz could be the Rick Perry of 2016 – a candidate who crashes and burns due to his own words. And we don’t just mean calling lawmakers “squishes.” Cruz’s unsubstantiated charges against then-Senator Hagel drew an angry response from GOP Sen. John McCain, even though Senator McCain opposed Hagel’s Pentagon nomination as well.

And Cruz in the past has embraced lots of “conspiracy theories” that now may come back to haunt him, writes Ian Millhiser at the liberal site Think Progress. According to Millhiser, these include charges that communists have infiltrated Harvard Law School (which Cruz attended), that Islamic law threatens the US, and that George Soros has led an international conspiracy to abolish golf.

“If Cruz runs, he would give voice to the conspiracy-minded John Birch Society wing of the Republican Party that the National Review’s founder [William F. Buckley Jr.] fought so hard to purge several decades ago,” writes Millhiser.

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