Senator Ted Cruz of Texas has announced on Monday he is going to run for president in 2016. One of the prominent leaders of the ultra-conservative wing of the Republicans, Cruz is the first politician to officially announce his candidacy. But the Tea Party controversial figure is still a question mark for the American public opinion.
Ted Cruz claimed on Tuesday that his fund-raising campaign had a promising start, as the first 36 hours passed since he became a runner already brought $1 million in support of his bid. But most analysts regard the Texas senator as a marginal contender, since he doesn’t seem to appeal to a lot of voters outside of the Tea Party electorate.
If he is to have real any chance in 2016, Cruz must first persuade people that he is more than a corner candidate. In a Tuesday night interview he tried just to do that. “If you want a quick indication of the support we’re seeing, in the first day, we raised over $1 million,” the senator tried to convince his interviewer, who claimed the more likely figure was of $500,000 at most.
There are a few similarities between Ted Cruz and the incumbent Barack Obama. Just like the president, Cruz launched his candidacy while on his first term as senator, and just like in Obama’s case, his critics accused him of lacking executive experience and leadership skills.
Cruz rushed to draw the line between his political background and Obama’s. “In my time in the Senate, there were a lot of faults I had, but nobody would accuse me of being a backbencher,” unlike the current president, the Republican runner said. Quite the contrary, the Texas senator argued, he actually helped the Senate with his experience instead of just hanging in there.
For the time being, the fundraising figures Cruz brought are the only proof that he is to be taken seriously. Besides his rhetoric, of course. And when it comes to public speeches, Ted Cruz showed that he is the kind of man who captures the spotlight, although not always for the best reasons.
From fringe politics to the top of the Republican party
During his term as US senator, he gained the image of a Republican committed to defending the conservative values his party represents, with the risk of become a pariah between his own colleagues. Cruz took a risk there, since the media coverage he gained with his radical opinions could rapidly backfire if the party eventually decides to adopt a more liberal strategy for the upcoming elections.
Ted Cruz’s high school and college results are all beyond reproach, he was a champion in college debates, and people who met him in his youth all described the Texas senator as a man of principle. He certainly tried to make voters think so, but there is a certain recurrent theme in Cruz’s activity in the Senate that makes some people question his commitment to principles: the Obamacare.
Since the Affordable Care Act’s early days, Senator Ted Cruz was one of those people who vowed to see it buried. He even led a Senate filibuster that caused the government to shutdown in 2013, and recently he reassured his supporters that “in 2017, a new president, a Republican president, will sign legislation repealing every word of it.”
Now, at Obamacare’s fifth anniversary, some Democrats pointed out that Cruz is starting to accept the law. Democratic National Committee spokeswoman Holly Shulman suggested on Tuesday that Ted Cruz is even considering getting involved in the program.
The truth is the senator has not yet bought any health care coverage for him and his family, and neither he nor his staff ruled out Medicaid. “We will presumably go on the exchange and sign up for health care, and we’re in the process of transitioning over to do that,” Cruz said in a recent interview, while Rick Tyler, a spokesman for the senator, advised reporters to first “let them make a decision on what coverage they’ll get before we start speculating on every variable.”
The competition Cruz will be facing within his own party is intimidating. There are three likely favorites that will probably fight each other for the nomination, and the Texas senator is not among them. He recognized the tough challenge ahead of him, and even believes one of his opponents, Jeb Bush, will smash all fundraising records, as he said on Monday.
He is the most conservative of all the Republican runners, and the party has opted only once in the past fifty years to send their most conservative candidate in the race for the White House. Most analysts believe Ted Cruz is very well aware of that. What he actually hopes to achieve with launching his candidacy is to prove himself as a contender. He no longer wants to be a fringe leader in his own party, and regardless of who might win in 2016, Ted Cruz hopes the elections will find him closer to the real Republican leadership.
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