Ted Cruz For President?

Is someone who's only be a Senator for just over 100 days a serious contender for the Republican nomination in 2016?

Ted Cruz

National Review’s Robert Costa is reporting that Texas Senator Ted Cruzwho has been in office just over 100 days, is considering a run for President in 2016 according to his close his friends:

Freshman senator Ted Cruz is considering a presidential run, according to his friends and confidants.

Cruz won’t talk about it publicly, and even privately he’s cagey about revealing too much of his tho ught process or intentions. But his interest is undeniable.

“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.”

For the moment, Cruz’s inner circle is small: mostly aides from his Senate campaign; his father, Rafael; and his wife, Heidi. They didn’t plan on having these presidential conversations so early in his first term. Yet Cruz’s rapid ascent and a flurry of entreaties from conservative leaders have stoked their interest — and Cruz’s.

“Ted won’t be opening an Iowa office anytime soon, but he’s listening,” says a longtime Cruz associate. “This is all in the early stages; nothing is official. It’s just building on its own.”

Behind the scenes, there is a palpable fear on the right that the GOP will nominate a moderate Republican in 2016. There’s also growing unease with the field of likely contenders.

Enter Cruz. 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.

Well, to be accurate, it’s kind of hard to have worse electoral results than Barry Goldwater did in 1964 with a loss that ranks right up there with Alf Landon, George McGovern, and Walter Mondale as one of the worse Presidential election defeats in American history. Doing better than Goldwater did probably wouldn’t be too hard for a Republican in today’s political climate simply because there are a larger number of solid red states that Cruz would likely win. That doesn’t mean he’d be able to win the election, though. NBC’s First Read reviews some of the obstacles that Cruz might face in a run for the White House:

While Cruz has charmed figures ranging from conservative bloggers to former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, he could encounter a Republican primary field that would hardly cede the most conservative bloc within the GOP to Cruz.

It’s easy to conceive of a series of Republican presidential hopefuls – Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (and possibly more) – vying for the same segment of the Republican primary vote as Cruz. Any one of those candidates will almost encounter difficulty in harnessing the political power of the Tea Party, a movement that has never been particularly well-known for acting in concert.

In addition to his fellow conservatives, Cruz would face opposition from the party establishment:

In 2012, the GOP establishment quickly rallied around Romney, if only after it became apparent that there would be no other serious contenders for the presidency available. And when it seemed as though the more conservative Rick Santorum might emerge to dethrone Romney during the primaries, there were serious rumblings that GOP money men might scramble to find an alternative candidate who they regarded as more formidable versus President Barack Obama in the general election.

Given Cruz’s conservatism, it isn’t tough to imagine the GOP establishment rallying around a candidate perceived as more electable to if a Cruz candidacy  came too close to victory.

It doesn’t help Cruz that he’s forged few alliances during his short time in the nation’s capital. He most recently derided many of his congressional colleagues as “squishes,” and spoke publicly about internal Republican debates that were supposed to remain confidential. Cruz has worked with a few fellow conservatives, but two of them – Paul and Rubio – could end up being rival candidates for the GOP nomination in 2016.

Commentary’s Seth Mandel points out another potential problem:

[T]here are two aspects to a Cruz candidacy the party might consider. First, it isn’t necessarily a good thing for the party for its leading agenda-setters in Congress to also be its leading presidential candidates. The skills needed to advance a successful legislative agenda in Congress often clash with the considerations that go into a presidential candidacy. This isn’t to single out Cruz specifically. But if the party’s principal House and Senate figures are all considering a run for the presidency, that will shape the legislation they put forward and the bills they choose to support or oppose. In one sense, that’s productive: the instant-accountability to GOP voters means they know they’ll answer for their vote. In another sense, it’s counterproductive: the state or district that elected each lawmaker is not the same he’ll face in a GOP primary, which may mean he’ll sacrifice his constituents’ interests on the altar of national ambitions.

Second, as Christian Heinze points out, Cruz could absorb enough of the conservative vote to clear a path for a candidate seen as more moderate. That may be good for the party’s general-election fortunes-Heinze mentions Chris Christie as a possible beneficiary of this, and Christie is almost surely a more electable general-election candidate-but it might not be what primary voters had in mind.

Mandel makes good points here, but it strikes me that the more likely outcome would be something akin to what happened in the GOP races in 2008 and 2012 when there were a number of “conservative” candidates that essentially divided the primary vote and cleared a path for the centrist candidate. In 2008, it was Romney and Huckabee dividing the loyalties of conservatives and clearing a path for John McCain. In 2012, it was Santorum and Gingrich doing the same thing and clearing a path for Mitt Romney. Of course, it was a bit more complicated than that during both elections. Both McCain and Romney had the backing of the party establishment and the big money Republican donors during their successful races to the nomination, and that gave them a huge advantage over their more conservative opponents even with the help of grassroots enthusiasm and, in 2012, SuperPAC money. In 2016, there could be as many as four conservative stalwarts in the Republican field, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Scott Walker, and Bobby Jindal. Add Cruz into that mix and you have five potentially strong conservative candidates that could divide the conservative vote. Even if all five of them didn’t make it all the way through the primaries, their presence in the race would at least divide loyalties among activists and donors to such an extent that a more moderate candidate like Christie or Jeb Bush, either one of which would likely have the strong backing of the GOP’s business community, would be at a distinct advantage.

On some level, it seems kind of silly to be talking about the Presidential prospects of someone who hasn’t even been a Senator for a full year yet and who just a year ago was the underdog in the race for the Republican nomination for the Senate seat that he now holds. So far, other than riling up the conservative base, he really hasn’t done anything to distinguish himself. Indeed, the one thing he’s probably best known for so far is his rather distasteful McCarthy-like questioning of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel during his confirmation hearings. He’s also gotten a reputation among his fellow Senators of being kind of a jerk. Perhaps that’s all it takes to be taken seriously as a Presidential contender on the right these days, or perhaps this is just one of those early fascinations that the right will have with a candidate who ends up being a flash in the pan. We’ll have to wait and see. On paper, though, it’s kind of hard to see Cruz’s candidacy as being a viable one. But, then, stranger things have happened.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2016, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. legion says:

    I dare you, Republicans. I TRIPLE-DOG DARE you to nominate Ted Cruz. That would be even more epic than Gingrich-Santorum or Sarah Palin on the debate stage.




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  2. Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

    Pleasepleasepleasepleasepleaseplease…




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  3. michael reynolds says:

    I don’t think it’s a question of how long he’s been in office. I think the fact that he’s an inflamed hemorrhoid is the bigger problem for him.




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  4. TheColourfield says:

    How could a man born in crazy socialist soviet Canuckistan possibly be a true conservative ?

    I think he’s an obvious Canchurian candidate who would immediately propose union with Canada and impose cheap healthcare for all.




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  5. ElizaJane says:

    It’s only May 2013 and already I find myself looking forward to the next round of Republican presidential primary debates.
    Although surely being born in Canada kind of puts a damper on Cruz’s ambitions and our fun?




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  6. grumpy realist says:

    @ElizaJane: Oh, no–just IMAGINE the fun we’ll have with the Cruz birfers…..De Vattellists in one corner, anti-14th Amendmentists in the other, and Orly, screeching in the middle.

    Epic. Invest in popcorn futures, guys, because this is going to be EPIC.




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  7. James Joyner says:

    He’s got as much national level experience as the current two-term incumbent had at this point in 2005. But, yeah, he’s got some other obstacles in his path.




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  8. NickTamere says:

    He’s got as much national level experience as the current two-term incumbent had at this point in 2005.

    Yes, but he has no executive experience, and as I recall that was a complete dealbreaker for republicans in the 2008 election.

    Also he uses a teleprompter and we’ve never seen his birth certificate.




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  9. anjin-san says:

    “serious” and Republican presidential hopeful” don’t really belong in the same paragraph…




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  10. TheColourfield says:

    @James Joyner:

    Shorter James

    “He’s a Republican, of course I’ll vote for him”




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  11. Scott says:

    @James Joyner: Yes, in fact, according to the Republican party, that makes him completely unqualified.

    At least Obama served at the state level for a time and in his time in the Senate, he worked across the aisle to get some things done.

    As a Texan, I’ve watched his debates and I came away totally unimpressed. He’s got the soundbites down but he had no grasp of the policy and it’s implications. Not that that seems to matter anymore.

    I’m waiting for his moves on immigration. Mainly because he’ll use some trite phrase as “jumping in front of the line” etc. I’ll will then wait for someone to point out that as a Cuban-American, he had a “Fast Pass” to the front of the line.

    If he cleans up his act, he may get some attention but as a smart guy, he may be like Gingrich and self-destruct. Besides, he hasn’t made many friends in the Senate and I’ll be waiting for someone to shiv him.




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  12. Dave says:

    He is a Rhodes Scholar that will never play well with the folks in the midwest. Even if he puts on a good act to seem dumb, his ivy league education will get in his way. What the republicans need is a conservative like Scott Walker out there, kicked out of Marquette for cheating, hold no degree. His fiscal and business policies has caused Wisconsin’s economy to nose dive. He is trying to institute voucher schools to rot out the public education system. And on top of it he is still being investigated for campaign fund misuse which has netted prison time for three of his closest aides. This guy is the complete picture for conservatives, Walker even rides a harley and hunts. Cruz doesn’t stand a chance.




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  13. stonetools says:

    The likely Republican Presidential Primary field of 2016 is looking better and better-for Democrats and comedians.




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  14. Caj says:

    I agree. Only not president of this country! This guy is a nutty as a fruit cake. President of Planet Loony Tunes, maybe. President of the United States, never in a million years. These tea party people think that all it takes to become president is to talk pure crap and the rest of the country will jump on board with them! The American People are way smarter than that.




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  15. John D'Geek says:

    @Dave:

    He is a Rhodes Scholar that will never play well with the folks in the midwest. Even if he puts on a good act to seem dumb, his ivy league education will get in his way.

    True. We’ve never had a Republican President that graduated from, say, Yale or a strong contender that graduated from, say, Harvard …

    Oh,wait …




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  16. Anderson says:

    But that’s only the SHORT-form birth certificate that says he’s born in Canada. So it may be completely disregarded.




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  17. Anderson says:

    Wait, I’ve got it: invade and conquer Canada, and then he’s grandfathered in.




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  18. gVOR08 says:

    @michael reynolds:

    I think the fact that he’s an inflamed hemorrhoid is the bigger problem for him.

    Only in the general. In the GOP primaries it’s an asset.




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  19. Pharoah Narim says:

    A Cruz run would be funner than a lonely night in an RV with a bucket of Jergens….




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  20. Woody says:

    Ted Cruz is the modern Republican Party. He already appeals to the middle-school mentality of the Republican id now. Three years of extreme rhetoric is enough to desensitize the courtier media (many of whom will swoon under peer pressure from the News Corp crowd). And when the Democratic candidate advocates for any Democratic policy, the Right’s intelligentsia will tumble to Ted very quickly indeed.




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  21. Dave says:

    @John D’Geek: That was before they went on their campaign against the educated elites. Also the GOP doesn’t acknowledge Bush was in office so we can assume their voters won’t think about things like that.




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  22. Latino_in_Boston says:

    He’s perfect!

    A candidate whose main qualification is that he’s a bully? Check.

    A candidate that cares little about policy? Check.

    A candidate that has the sound bite down pat for maximum exposure? Check.

    A candidate that has no qualms about using conspiracy theories or is embarrassed in any way by the lies he tells or the things he makes up or exaggerates? Check.

    and a candidate that will blame Obama for everything and will remind Republicans why everything that is wrong with this country is because of Obama? Check.

    Just this morning a poll reported that 44% of self styled Republicans think that armed Revolution is inevitable to defend our rights in the near future. That’s nearly half the Republican Party! Who best to appeal to them?

    Of course, he will not be able to get much more than that (he got a lower Latino vote in Texas than Cornyn for god’s sake!), but who cares? At this point, I think the GOP will rather lose than win with a moderate.




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  23. Argon says:

    I can imagine the debate among GOP candidates: “I knew Senator Joseph McCarthy. He was a friend of mine. And you, Senator Cruz, are no Joseph McCarthy!”




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  24. medusa says:

    If Cruz makes t through half of his first er n the Senate, he’ll be just as qualified as our current President was when he was elected. But of course….. he doesn’t look like a minority, …. sooooo that’s gonna be a problem.. Being visibly a minority, or at least looking like a minority is the most important qualification for sure. I was just hearing on the major networks the other day how it is time for a woman President. Race and / or gender trumps qualification, ya’ know




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  25. Xenos says:

    @medusa: Don’t stop belie–vin’, hang on to that fee–ee–ee–lin’…




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  26. MarkedMan says:

    @Pharoah Narim: wait, what? Jergens? What the heck is that supposed to mean?




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  27. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Pharoah Narim: Heh.




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  28. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @medusa:

    If Cruz makes t through half of his first er n the Senate, he’ll be just as qualified as our current President was when he was elected. But of course….. he doesn’t look like a minority, …. sooooo that’s gonna be a problem..

    Only in the deluded minds of the Tea Party. Of course, in those same deluded minds being a raging a$$hole is an asset. Fortunately, that is only true in Texas. Now if only we could find a way to send him back…




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  29. Rob in CT says:

    Why not nominate this cucklehead?

    As others have pointed out, he’s perfectly in line with the present-day GOP.




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  30. C. Clavin says:

    Cruz makes that fat f’er from Jersey look like a reasonable man.




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  31. stonetools says:

    @Latino_in_Boston:

    Of course, he will not be able to get much more than that (he got a lower Latino vote in Texas than Cornyn for god’s sake!), but who cares? At this point, I think the GOP will rather lose than win with a moderate.

    I truly hope you are right. The Democrats need to win a couple of landslides to erase the disaster of 2010




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  32. Pharoah Narim says:

    @Marked Man: Perhaps its time we had “the talk”. LoL




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  33. al-Ameda says:

    He is completely representative of the new Republican breed: arrogant, contemptuous, and supremely self-confident. Cruz makes Mitt Romney seem like a warm compassionate liberal Republican.




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  34. al-Ameda says:

    @James Joyner:

    But, yeah, he’s got some other obstacles in his path.

    What obstacles?

    Certainly very few in the way for the nomination – he’s in synch with the base of the Republican Party, he hates government, he’s arrogant, he’s already insulted a prominent Democratic senator (Dianne Feinstein). Right now, I’d think he’s 1 or 2 on the prospective GOP list. Is he really any less attractive a candidate than Santorum or Gingrich?

    President? Romney got 47%, and fell only 3 points short. Why would Cruz get less?




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  35. Barry says:

    @ElizaJane: “It’s only May 2013 and already I find myself looking forward to the next round of Republican presidential primary debates.”

    I’m convinced that the ’16 GOP primary will be a highly-constrained process. Nobody gets in unless they’re a governor or a Senator. Questions quite limited.




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  36. Moosebreath says:

    @al-Ameda:

    “President? Romney got 47%, and fell only 3 points short. Why would Cruz get less?”

    Because the people who will die between the 2012 and 2016 elections are disproportionately Romney voters, and the new voters are more likely to be attracted to the Democratic nominee.




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  37. pylon says:

    @Moosebreath: Also because Romney (for all his shortcomings) is a far more palatable candidate for moderates, who still make up the vast majority of electors. He had a moderate appearance as far as background, what with Romneycare, etc. A lot of his apologists wrote off his right wing rehtoric in the primaries as just that – rhetoric in order to win the nomination and appease the Tea Party.

    I fgure if Cruz of someone similar gets the nod, the party drops another 5% at least.




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  38. John425 says:

    Cruz is no less qualified than the Panderer-in-Chief that sits on his arse in the White House.




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