Doesn’t sound like a moderate to me.
Cruz takes the social-conservative path in ’16 GOP contest
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is the first major 2016 candidate to officially announce a presidential bid. And his kickoff speech this morning at Liberty University — the school that the late conservative Christian leader Jerry Falwell founded — is the big giveaway on his approach to relevancy in the GOP presidential contest. He is taking the evangelical/social conservative path. Since we’ve been covering American politics, the establishment path has been the tried and true way to win the GOP nomination. Think George H.W. Bush in ’88, Bob Dole in ’96, George W. Bush in ’00, John McCain in ’08, and Mitt Romney in ’12. You have to go all of the way back to ’80 with Ronald Reagan to see someone who took a more insurgent path to win the Republican nomination (and even Reagan by then was much more established and well known after his ’76 challenge against Ford). But taking the evangelical/social conservative path is certainly a way to achieve relevancy and a puncher’s shot at the nomination. Both Mike Huckabee in ’08 and Rick Santorum in ’12 took it — by winning Iowa — to become the major challenger to the eventual GOP nominee. And this time around, if Huckabee crashes and burns and if Scott Walker (who has the potential to win over social conservatives) doesn’t take off, this path could be wide open.
Cruz’s two challenges
But Cruz has two major challenges to overcome. One, can he raise enough money to compete? “Mr. Cruz will finance his campaign by looking to a mix of small-dollar contributors and a handful of wealthy patrons who could finance a super PAC. [Jason] Miller, the adviser to Mr. Cruz, confirmed the campaign would aim to raise at least $40 million,” the New York Times writes. And two, there’s the experience issue. Yes, there is certainly a precedent for a U.S. senator — serving in just his third year in office — to win the presidency. (See: Obama, Barack.) But do Republican primary voters have the appetite to nominate someone with a similar resume? All of this said, Cruz and his team deserve credit for generating 48 hours of buzz around the announcement. Given that other candidates are slated to announce next month (in order to show impressive 2nd quarter money hauls), going first certainly has its benefit.
Another reason why Cruz is such a longshot
Remember when we wrote last week that the BEST predictor of primary success during the “Invisible Primary” is endorsements from elected leaders (sitting senators, governors, House members)? Well, as the New York Times’ Nate Cohn argues, that factor is the chief reason why Cruz is such a longshot. “Mr. Cruz has done nothing to endear himself to the elites [in his own party]… A candidate with this sort of reputation is not going to have a serious shot at the nomination. If most conservative officials, operatives, leaders and pundits won’t take him seriously, voters won’t either. The elites would rally to defeat such a candidate if he ever seemed poised to win.” Indeed, can someone like Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) endorse him? If not, who else will? Here is NBC’s Perry Bacon on whether Cruz can win.
The NBC/WSJ poll on where Cruz stands vs. the rest of the likely GOP field
By the way, here is our NBC/WSJ poll from earlier this month on where Cruz stands vs. the rest of the likely GOP field on the question of whether GOP primary could see themselves supporting this candidate or not. The results:
Scott Walker 53%-17% (+36)
Marco Rubio 56%-26% (+30)
Ben Carson 41%-18% (+23)
Mike Huckabee 52%-40% (+12)
Bobby Jindal 36%-25% (+11)
Rand Paul 49%-40% (+9)
Jeb Bush 49%-42% (+7)
Rick Perry 45%-40% (+5)
Ted Cruz 40%-38% (+2)
Rick Santorum 40%-40% (even)
Carly Fiorina 18%-25% (-7)
Chris Christie 32%-57% (-25)
Lindsey Graham 20%-51% (-31)
Donald Trump 23%-74% (-51)
Read more: NBC News