BAYHAM: The Cruz Candidacy

When John McCain launched his candidacy for president in 1999, the Arizonan made his announcement  in front of the decommissioned aircraft carrier the USS Yorktown to underscore his military service.

When Texas US Senator Ted Cruz jumped into the race for president on Monday, he did so on the “deck” of an “evangelical battleship” at the Rev. Jerry Falwell-founded Liberty University.

Considering the major influence evangelical voters have in the GOP primaries, especially in the early states of Iowa and South Carolina, Cruz could not have been shrewder in selecting a venue for his declaration of candidacy.

Rick Santorum would have to announce from the Mount of Olives to top that.

Cruz has a reputation for being bombastic, uncooperative and a glory hound, but nobody can say he’s stupid.

Cruz was born in Calgary, Alberta to an American mother and a Cuban father who fled the island nation during the regime of Fulgencio Batista.  An amusing aspect of his pre-candidacy was the media and the Left’s Birther 2.0 fascination as they publicly examined and debated Cruz’s presidential eligibility.

And if Barack Obama was annoyed by discussing his birth certificate at a White House press conference, Cruz had to go through the rigmarole of renouncing his de facto Canadian citizenship.

Cruz would later earn a bachelor’s degree from Princeton and his law degree from Harvard.

And while he has not held a publicly elected office long, Cruz possesses no shortage of government experience, having clerked for Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist, served in George W. Bush’s Department of Justice and prior to entering the US Senate, was Texas’ solicitor general.  Cruz has argued before the Supreme Court nine times.

With his life story, Cruz would be heralded and fawned over by reporters…if he were a Democrat.

And because he can’t be Palin’d into being labeled a dummy, Cruz has been Bork’d by the media, Democrats and even by some of his fellow Republicans as an extremist.

Young, articulate (regularly speaking without teleprompter or podium), steadfastly conservative and hailing from an ethnic group that Republicans desperately craves to win over, Cruz should be one of the leading candidates for the party presidential nomination, yet he has not fared well in recent polls despite maintaining a high media profile and making appearances around the country.

In a PPP survey taken in September 2013, Cruz led the potential stable of GOP candidates and followed that up scoring a strong showing at a Values Voter Summit a month later.

But then Cruz’s standing began to tumble after being almost personally blamed for the political fallout from the 2013 Government Shutdown, though apparently the interruption did not do too much damage to the GOP as the party increased their numbers in both of Congress’ chambers (including taking control of the US Senate).

In a two-year period Cruz has gone from enjoying rising star status to being tarred as a fringe candidate, a baseless slander that has stuck to him only because it has been maliciously repeated so often by adversaries on both sides of the aisle.

Critics have also challenged him on his relatively thin political resume, having just cracked the third year of his six-year term as US Senator.

Cruz’s kickoff was made at roughly the same point when then-freshman senator and now current president announced his own bid for the White House, though you probably won’t hear Cruz citing this experience comparison often on the campaign trail for obvious reasons.

Cruz is the lead off declared candidate in what will be a very crowded field in general and including amongst TEA Party aligned voters.

Should Cruz have bet on the GOP blowing it again and spending the next few years rebuilding his depreciated brand, beefing up his legislative record and positioning himself to become the all-but-certain nominee in 2020?  Or to phrase it in the snarky rhetorical question of the day: too soon?


But as his Republican colleagues on Capitol Hill will freely admit, patience is a virtue Cruz has never been accused of possessing.

And for a man who had so distinguished himself in the field of debate that there is an award named for him at Princeton, the junior senator from Texas is no doubt looking forward to making the case for his candidacy and the opportunity to redefine his image throughout the primary process.



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