Ted Cruz Could Be the Barry Goldwater of 2016 — Except Win!

The Atlantic
Ted Cruz Could Be the Barry Goldwater of 2016 — Except Win!
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Ted Cruz Could Be the Barry Goldwater of 2016 — Except Win!

Ted Cruz didn't expect to be thinking about a presidential run just four months after being sworn in as the junior Senator from Texas, The National Review's Robert Costa reports, but "Cruz's rapid ascent and a flurry of entreaties from conservative leaders have stoked [his allies'] interest — and Cruz's." Cruz is a man who clearly has tremendous confidence in his own abilities — he's scolded a fellow senator about the Constitution, he read Shakespeare during an anti-drone filibuster, and just the other day he called his fellow Republican senators "squishes." This has not made him many friends in the Senate, where a rare bipartisan consensus has formed that he's kind of a jerk. But it has won him many, many fans outside the Senate.

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"Ted won't be opening an Iowa office anytime soon, but he's listening," a Cruz person told The National Review. Except that Cruz is giving a speech to South Carolina Republicans this week, and on May 29, he'll go where the money is — New York Republicans' annual dinner. Republican activists are tired of moderates. Costa writes:

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.

This is fascinating. Goldwater didn't rally the Republican base — he created it. At right is the 1964 electoral map, the result of Goldwater's opposition to civil rights laws, and which was the beginning of the base of the GOP shifting to the South. Today, the Republican Party thinks it has to reach out to Latino voters to win the White House. Among activists, one of Cruz's top selling points is that he's opposed to the immigration reform bill pushed by fellow Republican Marco Rubio, which h Rubio himself now admits the bill won't pass in the House, which is much closer to the GOP base than the Senate. At the Conservative Political Action Conference in March, Ann Coulter declared, "I'm now a single-issue voter against amnesty, so [Chris] Christie's off my list... Ted Cruz is still on my list." Former Bush speechwriter David Frum tweeted Wednesday, "do not underestimate the appetite of GOP base for candidate w Spanish surname who opposes immigration deal."

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The top contenders for the Republicans nomination in 2016 (at least in 2013) are senators — Rubio, Rand Paul, maybe Cruz. That might have something to do with the fact that one of Republican senators' major responsibilities (at least since 2008) is to filibuster things. There are 36 Republican governors, but many have annoyed the GOP base — New Jersey's Chris Christie said nice things about President Obama and remains open to compromise, New Mexico's Susana Martinez took Obamacare's Medicaid expansion, Louisiana's Bobby Jindal has seen his popularity collapse. And what has cost Rubio some 2016 popularity was that he actually tried to do something by proposing an immigration reform bill. At a Tea Party rally Friday, Cruz railed against the Republicans who wouldn't filibuster gun legislation, saying, "They said, 'Listen, before you did this, the politics of it were great. The [Democrats] were the bad guys, the Republicans were the good guys. Now we all look like a bunch of squishes.' ... Well, there is an alternative. You could just not be a bunch of squishes." Barry Goldwater was a great alternative to squishes. He failed to win the White House.

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