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Calculating Ted Cruz


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ted-cruz-ideological-purist-shrewd-strategistNational Review:

Eliana Johnson

August 27, 2015


When Donald Trump’s presidential bid started attracting serious attention, it was perhaps unsurprising that Ted Cruz was the only other Republican candidate to offer kind words about his new rival. After all, the two tend to draw support from the same kind of primary voter. Odder, though, was Cruz’s explanation for his praise of Trump. “I get that it seems the favorite sport of the Washington media is to encourage some Republicans to attack other Republicans,” the Texas Republican told NBC’s Chuck Todd. “I ain’t gonna do it. I’m not interested in Republican-on-Republican violence.”


This from a man who has garnered national attention mostly for attacking members of his own party’s leadership. Indeed, just days after he evoked the sentiment of Reagan’s “Eleventh Commandment” — “Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican” — Cruz took to the Senate floor to accuse Republican majority leader Mitch McConnell of telling a “flat-out lie.” According to Cruz, McConnell had assured him that a vote on the controversial Export-Import Bank would not be attached to a must-pass highway bill, when in fact it was. What had become of Cruz’s opposition to Republican-on-Republican violence?


Such is the paradox of the Cruz campaign: The man who boasts of his ideological purity is perhaps the most obviously tactical candidate. Whether praising Trump, changing his position on trade-promotion authority at the last moment, or getting as close as possible to Rand Paul on national security when the Paulite tendency was at its strongest, Cruz is always maneuvering to stay at the front of the parade.


His sympathizers see nothing more than the inevitable fancy footwork of any politician operating in the real world. “Tactics and goals necessarily go hand in hand,” says Michael Needham, CEO of Heritage Action, the advocacy wing of the Heritage Foundation. Cruz’s critics, on the other hand, see naked self-interest. These conflicting interpretations are part of why Cruz generates such passion, pro and con.



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