Rafael Cruz, father of Republican presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, appeared to have little difficulty selling his son to members of the conservative Freedom Club at their luncheon meeting Monday at the Minneapolis Club.
But it wasn’t the younger Cruz’s positions on taxes or social issues or gun rights that made an impression. It was the depiction of Ted Cruz’s personality — brash, extremely conservative, and unapologetic — as communicated by his father, a pastor who is equally unswerving in his belief that the future of the United States lies in Christianity and the Bible.
Many seemed to appreciate the directness. “I like people who say what it is,” said Maria de la Paz, vice chair of the Republican Hispanic Assembly.
“I think a lot people, even if they don’t agree with his positions, if they believe he is telling the truth they will support him,” said Tom Colter, a Cruz supporter from North Hudson, Wisconsin. “Authenticity counts more than it ever has in the past.”
In an interview after his talk, Cruz underlined what he believes is the core of his son’s appeal. “Two things that you can take to the bank with Ted Cruz,” said Rafael. “Number one he will tell you the truth and number two, he will do what he says he’s going to do.”
Cruz rejects the idea that an absolutist like his son would have troubling enacting his agenda with a less than cooperative Congress. “Ronald Reagan had a Democratic House and yet Ronald Reagan got a lot accomplished… because Ronald Reagan had a mandate from the American people,” he said.
Ted Cruz is seeking that mandate in part from evangelical Christians. Rafael Cruz said he had just learned that David Barton, an influential evangelical leader and political activist, would be leading one of the Ted Cruz super-Pacs. The senior Cruz described the move as monumental in appealing to “a bloc of the population that has been basically absent from the political process in very high numbers.”
Cruz, a Cuban immigrant who fought in the Batista resistance movement before he emigrated on a student visa, uses his own experiences and opinions to illuminate his son’s candidacy.
“One of the things I was so disappointed in, in President Obama, among many things, is that he went around the world apologizing for America and telling people America was not an exceptional country,” he said. “But I disagree totally. America is the most exceptional country in the world…. When I was sitting in the Senate chambers seeing my son being sworn in as U.S. Senator, I couldn’t contain the tears from my eyes.”
While Cruz answered questions about his son’s positions in unequivocal language, he avoided directness about the front-runner in the Republican field, Donald Trump, whose supporters Ted Cruz hopes to attract in the event Trump leaves the race.
“Donald Trump is fulfilling a need,” Cruz said. “Donald Trump is addressing America’s frustrations.”
But Cruz couldn’t resist an indirect comparison. “Ted is a consistent conservative, a constitutional conservative with a proven record.”
Cruz also contends his son has the most viable campaign in terms of fundraising. He said the campaign pulled in more than $14 million in the last reporting period from more than 175,000 small donors. (The Ted Cruz Super-Pacs are funded by multi-million dollar donations.)
Cruz’s Minnesota organization is fledgling at best as the campaign has concentrated on the early primary and caucus states — Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada. Rafael promised a stronger Minnesota organization is to come. But like the candidate himself, Rafael said, the organization will never be an establishment one.