Judging from the reception he got in Des Moines and Le Mars on Friday and Saturday, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas is still a hot property for conservative Iowa Republicans. I’ve posted links and highlights about Cruz’s latest visit after the jump. Any comments about his impact on Iowa politics or his potential as a presidential candidate are welcome in this thread.
I see Cruz as a showboater who will peak long before the 2016 Iowa caucuses, as people tire of his over-promising. Granted, many Republicans savor the fantasy that everything would go their way if the evil establishment only listened to “constitutional conservatives” like Cruz. Nevertheless, I expect Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker will have a winning message during the next caucus campaign. He can claim to have delivered on more conservative dreams than members of Congress like Cruz, Senator Rand Paul, or Representative Paul Ryan. I would love to be wrong and see the GOP nominate Cruz for president, though.
Cruz keynoted the Iowa GOP’s Reagan dinner in Des Moines on October 25. The full video from the event is available at C-SPAN’s website, including speeches by Senator Chuck Grassley and Governor Terry Branstad. Cruz’s speech begins around the 55-minute mark. He’s not the world’s best orator, but he gave the crowd plenty of red meat and predictable jokes, under the guise of “hope” and “optimism.” O.Kay Henderson posted audio of the speeches at Radio Iowa. For those who don’t want to listen, Shane Vander Hart live-blogged the event at Caffeinated Thoughts.
I know I shouldn’t be surprised anymore, but it always astounds me when no-compromise conservatives like Cruz hold up Ronald Reagan as a shining example of GOP “grassroots power”. Do they really not know that he signed many tax increases and exploded the national debt? Memo to Cruz: while Reagan was president, “the national debt increased compared to GDP every single year.” He also signed 18 debt ceiling increases.
But I digress.
Cruz was clearly a hit with the crowd on Friday night and with Republicans who attended the fundraiser for Representative Steve King that Cruz headlined in Le Mars on Saturday, after King and Cruz went pheasant-hunting together. Cruz is King’s kind of Republican senator, but King was cautious when talking about Cruz’s future during the latest edition of Iowa Public Television’s “Iowa Press” program.
[O.Kay] Henderson: Congressman, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul and Scott Walker have all come to Iowa in the past year and there has been a flurry of activity. Ted Cruz is here this weekend. Is he the flavor of the month in terms of presidential candidates of the future? Does he, in your view, having staying power in a presidential race?
King: The flavor of the month expression I think originated in the last caucus season we had when we had so many that jumped to the head of the polling lead and then dropped off and the next flavor of the month came. So yeah, I do, I catch that express. And how do we know? Anybody that steps up into the national arena and picks up all the press that a person like Ted Cruz is now and others have and will in the future, that staying power, is it theirs or is it the public loses its attention span? I think this, that as I watch him and I listen to what he has to say, and we’ve had some intense one-on-one conversations, he is very well anchored in fundamentals. I do believe that he is a full spectrum constitutional conservative and there’s no question he’s a very smart guy. So we will see. But he is also aware that this is an extraordinary ride that he’s on and I think he is just being the genuine Ted Cruz and we’ll see how far it will take him.
Iowa GOP Chair A.J. Spiker had only good things to say about Cruz today and on Friday night, as did GOP Co-Chair David Fischer. But don’t be fooled: if Senator Rand Paul runs for president in 2016, Spiker and Fischer will end up in the Paul camp again.
At the Reagan dinner, Governor Branstad blamed the media for allegedly trying to “divide” and “demonize” Republicans. But asked about Cruz earlier in the week, the governor damned the new senator with faint praise (at least to my ear):
Gov. Terry Branstad thinks Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is “a bright young guy” who the governor will welcome to Iowa later this week.
But the governor quickly added he’s been critical of both parties and their handling of the issues that led to the partial shutdown of the federal government this month.
“He’s just one of 100 members of the Senate,” Branstad said when asked about Cruz Monday. “I think we should hear from all viewpoints, but as you’ve heard from me, I believe the leadership in this country is coming from the governors and from the states, not from Washington, D.C., and I don’t think one freshman senator can turn this all around. I think it’s really going to take executive leadership.”
P.S.: Cruz may be wrong about almost everything, but he’s right about The Princess Bride being a great movie. It’s Mandy Patinkin’s all-time favorite role, and definitely on my top 20 list.