Ted Cruz nailed it at CPAC. He got the crowd fired up with his brand of no nonsense populism.
He tried to thread the needle between libertarians, neocons, and social conservatives and came pretty close to pulling it off. Love him or hate him, there’s a reason why he’s seen as a hell of a speaker.
While Ted Cruz is a hell of a speaker, I think Olivia Nuzzi at The Daily Beast (who I met yesterday at CPAC) does have a point that this can come off as sleazy, particularly in a general election. However, Cruz’s evangelical style (after all, he’s the son of a Baptist preacher) is definitely a hit with conservative audiences, particularly the one at CPAC. The conference room was mostly full for his speech and it was interrupted with laughter and applause often.
Cruz may have the hearts of the conservative base, but it will be much more difficult for him to have their minds. One thing you’re hearing from Republican voters in general is that they want someone with executive experience. That’s something that Ted Cruz, a man who hasn’t even completed half of his first term in the Senate, can’t offer. This becomes more difficult for Cruz when Scott Walker and Bobby Jindal are both gearing up for presidential bids.
One of the things I’m increasingly hearing both at CPAC and outside is that they don’t expect Ted Cruz to make a run for president. They expect him to test the waters but not eventually pull the trigger.
Either way, I think we can expect Ted Cruz to continue to be in the national limelight for a very long time to come.