None of us knows how this election is going to play out, but the one thing that we can say is that this has been the most entertaining presidential primary season ever. By far the most amusing part has been the utter state of panic the GOP establishment has been in since the voters took a look at their “electability” candidate, Jeb Bush, and started laughing. Since then one nightmare has followed another. If I’d had the foresight, I could have financed my children’s college expenses by selling brown trousers to the US Chamber of Commerce and the GOP Senate caucus.
Right now the GOP establishment is panicking over the specter of a Donald Trump candidacy. But if that wasn’t sufficient to get those panties wetted, now a fear of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is setting in.
Mainstream elected Republicans now see Cruz as a bigger threat than Donald Trump or Ben Carson to clinch the nomination — but equally damaging to their party’s chances of winning the White House and keeping the Senate next fall. Rubio would be a much stronger general election standard bearer, they believe.
This, of course, is patent nonsense. For the first time in my memory none of our top tier candidates has an “electablility” issue. Rubio does poll stronger against Clinton, but Clinton is either behind or in a statistical tie with the top six GOP hopefuls.
Cornyn, Thune and Coats have not endorsed in the presidential primary, and lawmakers interviewed for this story said many senior Republicans do not want to embarrass long-shot presidential hopeful Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) by endorsing Rubio while the South Carolina senator is in the race. They’re also aware that endorsements from top GOP lawmakers at this point in the primary wouldn’t help Rubio’s cause with the Republican base.
This is the most delicious part of the entire season. Though the establishment is very unhappy at the thought of Trump or Carson or Cruz, they know they are so toxic with GOP primary voters that their endorsement will sink their candidate. So they are forced to keep quiet, stand on the sidelines and hope for the best.
Cruz scoffed at the notion that Rubio is more electable, telling POLITICO that that’s precisely the logic that paved the way for Democrats to win five of the past six popular votes for the White House.
“Democrats also told Republicans Bob Dole was more electable, Democrats also told the press Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) was more electable, Democrats also told the press Mitt Romney was more electable,” Cruz said. “Then the Democrats were quite happy to go to their inauguration balls.”
Cruz predicted that millions of blue-collar Democrats would rally behind him in a general election, like they did with Ronald Reagan three decades ago. Rubio’s earlier support for comprehensive immigration reform — or a “massive amnesty plan,” in Cruz’s words — would preclude that kind of crossover appeal, the Texan said.
But congressional Republicans say the truest indicator of Rubio’s strength is the abuse he’s getting from Democrats. They’ve been pounding him daily over missed votes and briefings, while dissecting his policy plans. Cruz, by comparison, has been getting kid-glove treatment, to the extent Democrats mention him at all in opposition dumps from the party apparatus and outside liberal groups.
This last paragraph is meaningful only if you assume that Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) and Chuck Schumer know what they are doing, electorally. There has been precious little evidence that any Democrat senator has a good grasp on the mood of the nation given their drubbing in 2014. Rubio is attacked because, until now, he has been the highest ranked traditional Republican candidate. As Cruz rises in the polls they will begin attacks on him. Right now, you will note, is the attacks on Rubio are focused not on his conservative credentials but on the times he has voted with the Democrats.
The fundraising reports show that Cruz is running a savvy campaign that is both frugal and results oriented — very much like how we’d like the federal government to operate. Nearly alone among the non-Trump candidates, Cruz is financially positioned to fight the battle to the end. He is in that position because he is not acting as a life support system to RNC endorsed consultants that are sucking the other candidates dry.
The establishment is right to panic over Cruz. There are five or six others who could be more than adequate presidents, certainly — and in this they are like my dog — they would be superior to Obama. Alone of the GOP field, Cruz is the guy who could be a game-changer as president. The more the establishment panics the more my optimism grows.