Were it not for the Trump-Ramos grudge match last night, this would be the big presidential race media dustup of today’s news cycle. Unfortunately it’s been overshadowed – and with the insane happening in Roanoke this morning in which a fired news reporter at a local TV station shot a reporter, cameraman and interview subject on live TV, it will be completely overshadowed.
That’s a shame, because this was a masterful performance by Cruz. The video…
And a partial transcript…
“If you have a husband and wife who are illegal immigrants, and they have two children here who are American citizens – would you deport all of them? Would you deport the American citizen children?” Kelly asked.
“Megyn, I get that that’s the question you want to ask,” Cruz said after repeatedly listing the steps Congress should take for addressing the issue. “That’s also the question every mainstream media liberal journalist wants to ask. They focus exclusively on 12 million people.”
Kelly then took issue with Cruz’s response, insisting that her question was fair.
“Is it an unfair question?” she asked the Texas lawmaker.
“It is a distraction from how we actually solve the problem,” Cruz responded. “You know, it’s also the question that [President] Barack Obama wants to focus on.”
It’s not that the question was particularly unfair. It’s a tough question, and it’s certainly framed in the way that a Jorge Ramos would accost a Republican politician with.
At some point, if you’re going to tighten the border and attempt to address the question of anchor babies you’re going to be faced with the ugly reality that you’re either going to be splitting families up or deporting Americans. And in our culture, where logic is nearly illegal, it’s the federal government and specifically the people who want to actually enforce the law who bear the moral burden of that Hobson’s choice and not the illegals who actually cause the problem.
But Cruz politely refuses to go there, and calmly, perhaps even playfully, chides Kelly for framing the issue in so emotionally charged a manner – and then goes on to answer the question the way he wants. It’s not unresponsive, but he simply will not allow her to poison the attempt at solutions with the sob-story narrative.
This is textbook work, and it shows how strong Cruz is as a candidate. While Trump is without question on a roll, and the public is enthralled with his destruction of the pantomime political candidates have been forced to engage in over the past 20 years, the risks he’s taking are going to ultimately keep him from being taken seriously by the bulk of the Republican base. Cruz, who comes from basically the same perspective, is doing the same things with a far more sophisticated – and presidential – presentation.
Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey cuts to the meat of what’s going on here…
Trump has set the tone for the low-engagement portion of this cycle with his attacks on all institutions, even the normally popular Fox News and Kelly herself. Cruz’ zinger here seems like a signal to Trump supporters saying I’m one of you. It’s only one moment in the interview, and by the end of the segment, they’re both laughing about not having to represent clients in law practices any longer, but the signal is there nonetheless. It’s a shot across the bow, and like everything Ted Cruz says, it’s deliberate and strategic.
It’s no secret that Cruz has positioned himself to claim Trump supporters if and when Trump either collapses or withdraws, but they really should have been Cruz voters from the beginning. Cruz has the policy depth and demonstrated commitment to anti-Establishment action that Trump lacks, plus a more cutting rhetorical edge that is more effective because it’s more disciplined. On top of that, no one will look in Cruz’ past to see wildly divergent positions on key conservative agenda items; Cruz has been consistently conservative since his days at Harvard, and that’s saying something. If Trump fades, Team Cruz will be the natural home for many of Trump’s supporters, and many of them may find themselves happier for that transition.