If anyone could grab headlines with jabs at establishment Republicans – to say nothing of the Obama administration and Democrats – it was Ted Cruz.
That, of course, was before the much louder, much more in-your-face real estate mogul, Donald Trump, became a presidential candidate and the center of attention with messages similar to Cruz’s.
Now, however, Cruz, who was the first candidate to enter the presidential race, has a chance to get back into the election spotlight with the fight in Congress over Planned Parenthood, the budget, and the threat of another government shutdown.
His supporters are banking on Cruz, who now – as in the 2013 government shutdown he propelled by pushing for it to be tied to defunding Obamacare – would be at the core of a new push to grab back the headlines and conservative support, according to Politico.
With the possible shutdown in the news, and a fight in Congress over it, Cruz’s supporters believe he can show his long-time tea party and evangelical blocs that he is the only one among the candidates who really has fought the Beltway status quo.
It is also one way, to be sure, for Cruz, who refuses to criticize Trump, and even has invited him to rallies, to distinguish himself from the mogul without making it an overt showdown.
“Every election we see campaign conservatives who talk a good game on the campaign trail, and yet haven’t walked the walk,” Politico quoted Cruz as saying in an interview with the news outlet. “The clearest distinction is that, of the Republican candidates running, I am the only consistent conservative who on issue after issue after issue has been the same yesterday, today, tomorrow.”
But some in the GOP think a Cruz-government-shutdown encore could backfire this time, Politico says.
It could make the Texas Republican, who’s serving his first term in the Senate, seem too far outside the Beltway to have a real shot at winning the primary and the general election.
“For the short term, it sets him apart, but in the long term, it could come back on him,” said Kim Reem, head of the Iowa Federation of Republican Women, according to Politico. “The people more to the middle that he’d need to win the presidency may very well say, ‘Well, I’m not likely to support you that way because I don’t like how you handled [this].’”
In his bid to be president, Cruz has a solid network of funds and staff, including 500 surrogates in battleground states.
They include pastors in each of Iowa’s 99 counties.
He has more than $50 million when his super PACs’ totals are included.
Of his Planned Parenthood budget battle, Cruz says it’s not a presidential election gimmick.
“I would be doing exactly the same thing whether or not I was running for president. And I would note that my approach was the same, on the day I arrived in the Senate, long before any campaign was in the offing,” Cruz said.
Be that as it may, it doesn’t hurt him among conservatives who increasingly hold sway in the elections.
“It clearly helps him in the evangelical lane. The liberty movement is also a very pro-life movement, and by and large, although not always, it’s a focus of the tea party. So it has broad spectrum support among conservatives,” said an adviser, speaking of the dual legislative-political strategy.
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