Monday, March 09, 2015

Not Too Late For Ted Cruz To Win The Republican Nomination?


Last year I was certain that Ted Cruz's ruthlessness and willingness to pander to the most extreme factions of the neo-fascist right would trump the big money Establishment Republicans who, at the time, were lining up behind Jeb Bush and Chris Christie. Christie is no longer a factor, Bush hasn't caught fire and Cruz could still pull it off-- but right now the front-runner has got to be ridiculous Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. The most recent Quinnipiac poll-- March 5-- shows Walker a nose ahead of Bush among GOP voters.
Scott Walker- 18%
Jeb Bush- 16%
Chris Christie- 8%
Mike Huckabee- 8%
Ben Carson- 7%
Ted Cruz- 6%
Rand Paul- 6%
Marco Rubio- 5%
Everyone else was 2% or less-- and in a general election matchup, Hillary Clinton beats each one of them. Cruz, in fact, only manages 38% against her, the worst of any Republican contender. Clinton also has the highest favorability rating among all voters.

Over the weekend, the Republicans were at the Iowa Ag Summit (AKA- King Corn Summit) where they found themselves on uncomfortable ground. Everyone in this crowd can agree that the EPA is Satan and that there should be no regulations air and water quality-- but the Iowa farmers aren't voting for anyone who isn't supporting the renewable fuel standard (and its subsidies). National right-wing ideologues are looking for a candidate who will put his foot down and say "no" to what they see as corporate welfare. For them, it's become a character issue. The ethanol industry is very powerful in Iowa and Republican candidates are loathe to cross them.
In an interview before the summit, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad said “it’s doubtful” that a candidate who opposed the fuel standard could win the caucus. “It could be a very decisive issue,” he said. Mr. Branstad’s son, Eric, is leading what’s described as a multi-million dollar “naughty and nice” campaign to pressure candidates to promote the fuel standard.
Most of the candidates took their cue from Branstad and went full-tilt pander, particularly Scott Walker, Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee and Rick Perry. Jeb Bush gave a weasel word answer that tried to appease both sides. But Ted Cruz had his eye on the national extremist base.
“The answer you’d like me to give is, ‘I’m for the RFS.’ Darn it, that would be the easy thing to do. But I tell you, people are pretty fed up, I think, with politicians that run around and tell one group one thing and tell another group another thing, and then they go to Washington and they don’t do anything that they said they would do. And I think that’s a big part of the reason we have the problems we have in Washington, is there have been career politicians in both parties that aren’t listening to the American people and aren’t doing what they said they would do.””
The National Review applauded Cruz's strategy and said he won the point and got the biggest applause. He's trying to paint himself as the guy who tells the truth no matter what it costs politically. He even defended New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez, who, claims Cruz, is the victim of a vendetta by Obama for his stands against administration policies in Cuba and Iran.
Cruz made the allegations to a throng of reporters jammed into the corner of a tent outside the Iowa Ag Summit in Des Moines without even having been asked about the Menendez criminal charges.

“The announcement this week by the Justice Department that they were bringing charges against Bob Menendez-- I will point out that the timing seems awfully coincidental that … in the very week that Bob Menendez showed incredible courage to speak out and call out President Obama for the damage that his policy is doing to our national security … the Justice Department announces they’re moving forward with the criminal prosecution,” Cruz said.

“It raises the suggestion to other Democrats that if you dare part from the Obama White House, that criminal prosecutions will be used potentially as a political weapon against you as well,” he added.
Still, Cruz's dismal showing at CPAC, supposedly the kinds of committed activists and extremists who were going to propel him into the nomination, can't be looked at as auspicious for the nomination. Instead, he came in third behind Rand Paul and Scott Walker. If he can't win the CPAC straw poll... he's still got a very long way to go.

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