Ricochet is the best place on the internet to discuss the issues of the day, either through commenting on posts or writing your own for our active and dynamic community in a fully moderated environment. In addition, the Ricochet Audio Network offers over 50 original podcasts with new episodes released every day.
We’ve reached the point where if the field doesn’t produce an anti-Trump in the next two weeks or so, Donald Trump will win the Republican nomination. Up until Tuesday night, the general feeling was that Marco Rubio could fill that role and that the others should make way for him. That was good, except now, out of 15 contests, Rubio has won exactly one.
That would seem to point to Ted Cruz as the anti-Trump savior. Unfortunately, the thing I hear over and over again from conservatives and some libertarians, is that they prefer Cruz, but that he is unelectable. Just so everybody is clear: I don’t have a guy. Other than being anti-Trump, I don’t have a dog in this fight. But I find fault with the argument that Ted Cruz is unelectable.
First things first, can we all agree that this presidential election cycle is unprecedented? Having a former First Lady as a major party nominee alone makes this a historical election. As does a woman being the major party nominee. As does a candidate who has a non-zero chance of getting indicted between now and election day.
And then there’s Trump. A year ago, I sat in the audience of his CPAC speech and laughed loudly at just about every line. I, and others around me, marveled how he went from General McArthur to Bowe Bergdahl to Iran to a border wall to executive orders to Common Core to the Second Amendment in under 90 seconds. But nobody’s laughing anymore. Donald Trump has defied all models, expectations, and attempts at self immolation.
Add to that the atypical mood of the electorate, the fatigue at the end of an eight-year presidency, the general chaos of the world and the nation, the whims of the electoral process, and it becomes damn near impossible to predict anything.
So then why the assumption that Cruz is unelectable?
Ted Cruz has two enormous things in his favor: he is a master strategist and he has the ambition to win. He realized he needed to win an early state. Since he’s a Senator from Texas, it wasn’t going to be New Hampshire. He realized the key to Iowa was evangelical voters, so from his announcement, Cruz geared his campaign towards winning that block. He has a plan and he executes that plan with enormous discipline. In the debates he stuck to his message and laid low until the number of opponents became manageable. Cruz held off attacking Trump and left the door open to welcome in his supporters until such time as it was no longer practicable. (After all, everyone knew that Trump would eventually self-destruct.)
Even now, in the most recent debate, he let Rubio get down in the muck with Trump. Cruz’s attacks were more subtle, repeatedly setting up Trump to hang himself. (For example, by getting him to praise Qaddafi.) And on Tuesday, that strategy of letting Rubio crawl through the mud paid off.
At this point, calls for Rubio or Cruz to drop in favor of the other are mostly coming from those who favor one candidate or the other. I consider them premature. But if Rubio can’t win any primaries (especially the one in Florida) it seems unlikely that he could win the general election.
A Cruz primary victory means he would be running against Hillary Clinton in the fall. There was a reason we had 17 candidates at one point: even George Pataki smelled blood in the water. Hillary Clinton is a wounded candidate. She’s wounded by her record, the primary fight, Benghazi, the Clinton Foundation, her husband’s scandals, the FBI investigation, and she’s dragged down by the same anti-dynastic sentiment that doomed Jeb Bush.
The conventional wisdom says that Cruz cannot possibly win. For an arch-conservative Senator from Texas, that might be true in a typical year. But I think we can all agree that this ain’t a typical year.Published in