Could Cruz' Posturing Hurt Him in the Primary?

I’ve been saying over the last week or so that Ted Cruz’ ranting and raving over Obamacare was about nothing more than bringing in campaign contributions and positioning himself as the One True Conservative in the 2016 presidential race. Two Buzzfeed reporters say it could actually do the opposite:

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s quixotic campaign to defund Obamacare — currently culminating in an hours-long quasi-filibuster on the Senate floor — has caused conservative activists across the country to swoon.

But one key contingent of the Republican Party is decidedly unimpressed with the gambit: big-ticket donors.

According to several Republican sources, most of whom declined to disparage a rising star on the record, the party’s donor class is rolling its eyes at Cruz’s last-minute, long-shot attempt to keep the controversial health care law from fully going into effect — dismissing it as unintelligible parliamentary trickery at best, and counterproductive self-promotion at worst.

Cruz, who most Republicans believe is positioning himself for a 2016 presidential run, will need the support of at least a portion of the party’s moneyed donors to stay competitive in a primary. But skeptics say he’s running the risk of being seen as unserious by the same people he will need to write him checks in a couple of years.

“Sure, he’s revving up the base, but so did Michele Bachmann and Pat Buchanan,” said one longtime Republican strategist who has worked on multiple state and national campaigns. “If you’re serious about running for president… you need the serious money, more than the direct mail crowd and the small money donors.”

“That,” the Republican said, “is the difference between winning the Iowa Caucus and winning in a serious state like Florida.”

That’s a pretty compelling argument.

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  • daved

    It’s hard to know with Cruz. I think the big danger is underestimating him.

    There’s an online piece about him in GQ right now. It mostly discusses the impressions of people who knew him in college, law school, and beyond. The core of the piece, and it really is striking, is that virtually everyone who knew him said two things about him. The first is that he’s extremely intelligent, remarkably so. The second is that he’s a real asshole. The latter is, we can hope, likely to be his downfall.

  • raven

    It’s hard to know with Cruz.


    In a rational world, he would be scamming old people out of their Social Security checks or something. He is not a nice person. The fact that he was elected senator says a lot about Texas and the current USA.

    OTOH, he is leaving in huge paper trail behind him and it isn’t a good one.

    That was what doomed Satanorum. He did the same thing and nothing ever disappears off the internet.Which showed a guy with a dark, twisted, and empty mind. And enough people weren’t interested in a New Dark Ages Pope wannabe.

  • Chiroptera

    “That,” the Republican said, “is the difference between winning the Iowa Caucus and winning in a serious state like Florida.”

    Which is bullshit. The people who actually run in Florida are the ones who first succeed in Iowa and New Hampshire (or at least don’t lose too badly). When Iowa and New Hampshire annoints the least rational and most ignorant of the possible candidates as the “realistic contenders,” the self-serving “big money donor” assholes are going to be more than happy to open their wallets to whichever of the extremists are going to be more pliable to the big money interests — and that could very well be Cruz.

  • “That’s a pretty compelling argument.”

    A compelling argument trying to wrangle crazy isn’t all that compelling. Big money donors watch FoxNews too. Last time each rich loon picked his own loon to fund, but if they can unite, early, behind a single loon (and also have no debates), they’ll create MegaLoon. Failing that, the least bad survivor will get the nom.

    In any event, it’ll be him (or another Base-Tingler like him) as the GOP’s Vice Presidential candidate.

  • colnago80

    Re raven @ #2

    It should be pointed out that he defeated the establishment candidate in the Rethuglican primary for Senate in Texas who, presumably, had the big money behind him.

    Re daved @ #1

    I have been posting comments on this saying the same thing. Cruz is very smart and underestimating him is to be done at our peril. If he can get the Koch brothers behind him, he will have plenty of loot to compete. He is also a first class demagogue, which together with his intelligence makes him the most dangerous man in the Rethuglican party. Cruz’s strength is his ability to say ridiculous things and make then sound reasonable.

  • smhll

    I hate Cruz, don’t get me wrong. But I also despise the idea that sincere people need to tailor their message to satisfy the fat-wallet overlords if they want a political future.

    (“Merciful overlords!” is my new, irreverant prayer. Invoking Zeus didn’t get me anywhere.)

  • Wait, Florida is a serious state? Since when?

  • colnago80

    Re daved @ #1

    Link to GQ article below.

    Here’s an interesting excerpt from the article that is most indicative of Cruz’s attitude. What a phony asshole.

    As a law student at Harvard, he refused to study with anyone who hadn’t been an undergrad at Harvard, Princeton, or Yale. Says Damon Watson, one of Cruz’s law-school roommates: “He said he didn’t want anybody from ‘minor Ivies’ like Penn or Brown.”

  • abb3w

    I think this may somewhat underestimate the size and potential impact of the Long Tail of crazy money.

  • exdrone

    Adapted from If I Ran the Zoo by Dr. Seuss:

    “It’s a pretty good zoo,”

    Said [Senator Cruz],

    “And the fellow who runs it

    Seems proud of it too.

    But if I ran the zoo,”

    Said [Senator Cruz],

    “I’d make a few changes.

    That’s just what I’d do.

    The [libertarians] and [tories] and that kind of stuff

    They have up here now are not quite good enough.

    You see things like these in any old zoo.

    They’re awfully oldfashioned.

    I want something new!

    So I’d open each [district], [find others of my ken],

    Let the [incumbents] go and start over again.

    And somehow or other I think I could find

    Some [reps for the people] of a more unusual kind.


    ‘He [speaks] with such vim, he [speaks] with such vigor.

    His new [views], [Ted Cruz]’s [views], gets bigger and bigger.’

    Then the whole town will gasp, ‘Why this boy never sleeps!

    No [Senator] before ever [expelled such a heap].

    There’s no telling what that young fellow will do!’

    And then, just to show them, [I continued to spew]

    ‘This [senator], [Tea Partier]’s simply astounding.’

    He [is speaking] so [long] that you think he’d drop!

    When do you suppose this young fellow will stop?’

    Stop… ?

    Well, I should.

    But I won’t stop until

    I’ve [defunded the Obamacare bill],

    And boy! When I [enact my vision which is stark],

    The whole world will say, ‘[Ted Cruz] made his mark.’

  • eric

    Its kinda ironic; most of the time in politics, we wish candidates would pay more attention to the needs and wants of voters and less attention to their few big donors. However in Cruz’ case, it appears the sanity rests more with the donors.

  • The problem for Cruz is that he has to win the Republican primary first, and unless he someone becomes the prohibitive front runner from day one, a lot is going to come out about just how much of an asshole he is. The Freepers will be beside themselves with ecstasy, but the moderate voters will also see what he’s like.

    The DailyKos has a post pointing out that Rand Paul might be the one to gain most from Cruz’s rise into the spotlight. Remember when Paul was the far right-wing libertarian crazy who wouldn’t have voted for the 1960s civil liberties legislation? Unlike Cruz, Paul has been far more careful to cultivate relationships with establishment Republicans and even the odd Democrat or two, and thanks to Cruz going bonkers, he now looks a much safer, more moderate bet for right-leaning voters than he did a couple of years ago. (Appearances are deceiving, of course.)