Is Ted Cruz’s campaign as cynical as his opponents think it is?

REUTERS/Mike Stone
Former president George W. Bush on Sen. Ted Cruz: “I just don’t like the guy.”

A couple of weeks ago, Rafael Cruz, the father of Republican presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, spent a few hours in the Twin Cities trying to convince people that his son is a humble man with vision of a better America formed by the constitution and his Christian values.  

“Ted truly has a servant’s heart,” the elder Cruz said in an interview after a speech.

But as Cruz incrementally rises in national polls and substantially builds his base of donors, his critics are openly challenging the sincerity of that message.

Former president George W. Bush, for one, reportedly let loose his concerns at a recent fundraiser for his brother Jeb. As an article in Politico detailed, Bush spoke nicely of the rest of the GOP presidential field. But when the subject came to Cruz, Bush flatly described him as “opportunistic,”  adding “I just don’t like the guy.”

In the New York Times, Frank Bruni followed up with an op-ed commentary that referred to Cruz as “cynically opportunistic and self-serving” and “a menacing, stalking, relentless force.”

The pointedness of those critiques prompted me to look again at the entire interview I did with Ted Cruz’s father where, at the time, I  noted his comments about evangelicals, a group that Ted Cruz wants firmly in his camp.

Cruz and his father, a pastor, have made a major effort to connect with evangelicals by communicating their shared Christian values.  And they may well have a strong ideological bond. But Rafael Cruz’s dispassionate explanation of the evangelical attraction only reinforced the contention that Ted Cruz’s campaign is guided more by the political necessity of reliable primary voters  than a personal dedication to principles.

When Rafael talked about evangelicals, for example, his cited the recent addition of David Baron, who just took over the SuperPac for Ted Cruz:  “This means that we have one of the most respected evangelicals in America leading the SuperPac,” said Rafael Cruz. “This is going to every positive news for people of faith and I think it’s also going to attract a lot of evangelical donors to the campaign.”

When I asked about the concern that appealing to the most hard-core elements of the base undermined the ability to eventually appeal to more centrist voters, Rafael responded: 

OK, no.  Actually he’s not just trying appeal to wing[s] of the party. The reason I mention evangelicals is because of this.  According to a poll that George Barna [who does research and training for religious groups and churches] did in 2012, right after the 2012 election, in the 2012 election there were 12 million evangelical Christians not registered to vote and an additional 26 million that didn’t vote.  That’s a total of 38 million evangelical Christians that didn’t vote in the 2012 election out of an estimated total 89 million. Suppose just ten percent more vote in this election, that will be 3.6 million additional votes. That would change any election in the country so it just represents a bloc of the population that has been basically absent from the political process in very high numbers. So it is just pointing out one of the challenges that we have in prior elections because this segment of the population has been uninvolved in the political process. As a matter of fact, Ted Cruz is trying to attract every segment of the population. This just happens to be a segment that has been absent to a very large extent.

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Comments (6)

  1. Submitted by Steve Titterud on 10/26/2015 - 10:30 am.

    Ted Cruz reminds me of another Texan,…

    …Lyndon Johnson.

    Same level of sincerity.

  2. Submitted by Todd Hintz on 10/26/2015 - 11:45 am.

    Vote For Me!

    If Cruz really is trying to attract all voters to his camp, what is he doing to pull me in? I’m a middle aged atheist white guy with a pragmatic streak a mile wide. So far I haven’t seen a single pragmatic element out of the guy, although I’m not spending every spare moment following his campaign either. From what I’ve seen, he makes Michele Bachman look like the sane rational one in the group.

    Hoping and praying (or preying, perhaps) for Armageddon may work for some segments of society, but I’m not one of them.

  3. Submitted by Dimitri Drekonja on 10/26/2015 - 01:08 pm.

    I would have liked Ms. Brucato to answer the question the deadline raised: “Is Ted Cruz’s campaign as cynical as his opponents think it is?”

    It’s not news that a liberal opinion writer says “yes,” and that the candidate’s dad says “no.” What do you, with a three-decade career as a journalist and political strategist, think?

  4. Submitted by Nathaniel Finch on 10/26/2015 - 02:43 pm.

    David Barton, not Baron

    That PAC leader is David Barton, not David Baron. That’s the same David Barton who had his book about Thomas Jefferson’s faith pulled by the publisher because it was filled with inaccuracies, if not downright lies.

  5. Submitted by Jim Million on 10/26/2015 - 04:38 pm.

    Not by a Nose

    It’s pretty hard to get past his nasal tones to hear the message, especially when Ted Cruz gets up to speed. Even when he becomes quietly passionate, he often produces an irritating whine somewhat akin to a worn transmission. But, Cruz can’t do much about any of that now, except try to be aware and better modulated.

    Some politicians believe they speak well because they read well. Others seem to believe that public speaking is simply organized talking. Wrong and wrong.

    While all politicians worry about optics, fewer seem to consider how they sound to the audience. Voices do count…a lot, especially those of candidates (and those of the People, of course).

    Well, that’s one aging Speech/Theatre major’s observation.

    • Submitted by Rich Crose on 10/26/2015 - 07:12 pm.

      You’re Right!

      He’s like listening to “Yellow Rose of Texas” on a kazoo. It makes me want to stuff my ears with cotton.

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