Archive for the ‘Ted Cruz’ Category

After being “Against Trump,” this famous conservative magazine has made an endorsement

Saturday, March 12th, 2016

Originally published at Rare

National Review made waves earlier this year when they dedicated an entire edition of their magazine to opposing the presidential candidacy of Donald Trump. Twenty-two conservative writers produced essays explaining why they are, as the issue was titled, “Against Trump.” This helped spark the #NeverTrump campaign, that has taken hold in many corners of conservative social media.

Now, National Review is endorsing Ted Cruz for president.

As the magazine’s editors explained, “Conservatives have had difficulty choosing a champion in the presidential race in part because it has featured so many candidates with very good claims on our support. As their number has dwindled, the right choice has become clear …”

While this helps Cruz, there’s a deeper story about how it’s disappointing for Senator Marco Rubio, who continues to underperform electorally and so poorly that it’s hard to see a path to victory for him.

As of this writing, Trump has 458 delegates, Cruz has 359, and Rubio has only 151. A candidate needs 1,237 delegates to win the nomination. National Review’s editors, some of whom seemed more inclined to support Rubio, are likely seeing the writing on the wall as the 2016 primary season unfolds.

Rubio’s home state of Florida votes on March 15th. Delegate-wise, it’s a winner-take-all contest, and a do-or-die moment for the junior senator. Real Clear Politics’ polling average for Florida puts Rubio behind Trump at 39.9 percent versus 25.2 percent, with Cruz in third place at 18.2 percent.

While some recent polls indicate that Rubio is on an upward swing in Florida, it may not be enough for him to eke out a crucial victory in what some believe should be a slam dunk contest for him.

This is largely why, despite many Republicans’ reservations about Cruz, many are beginning to see him as the only candidate capable of stopping Trump. Even Senator Lindsey Graham, who ran unsuccessfully for president this cycle and eventually endorsed Jeb Bush, has softened his anti-Cruz stance. This has become more common as a desperate Republican establishment scrambles to find a Trump alternative. For example, just this week, Jeb Bush’s brother Neil joined the Cruz finance team.

Of Cruz’s conservative credentials, National Review’s editors write:

“We supported Cruz’s campaign in 2012 because we saw in him what conservatives nationwide have come to see as well. Cruz is a brilliant and articulate exponent of our views on the full spectrum of issues. Other Republicans say we should protect the Constitution. Cruz has actually done it; indeed, it has been the animating passion of his career. He is a strong believer in the liberating power of free markets, including free trade (notwithstanding the usual rhetorical hedges). His skepticism about ‘comprehensive immigration reform’ is leading him to a realism about the impact of immigration that has been missing from our policymaking and debate. He favors a foreign policy based on a hard-headed assessment of American interests, one that seeks to strengthen our power but is mindful of its limits. He forthrightly defends religious liberty, the right to life of unborn children, and the role of marriage in connecting children to their parents — causes that reduce too many other Republicans to mumbling.”

The editors did hedge their bet slightly though, adding that, “He has sometimes made tactical errors [in the Senate], in our judgment; but conflicts have also arisen because his colleagues have lacked direction, clarity, and urgency.” They also noted that, “No politician is perfect, and Senator Cruz will find that our endorsement comes with friendly and ongoing criticism.” They then cited issues with his tax plan, lack of clarity as to what he’d replace Obamacare with, and questioned his strategy for mobilizing conservatives in a general election.

Nevertheless, National Review has concluded that Cruz is currently the best candidate to stop Trump, to the extent that it’s even possible.

The March 15th primaries promise to determine what’s possible. If Trump does in fact win Florida and Ohio, both winner-take-all states, the efforts of National Review and the #NeverTrump crowd may have been in vain.


After Super Tuesday is a Brokered Convention on the Horizon?

Thursday, March 3rd, 2016

Originally published at EveryJoe

Supporters of Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio have spent the past couple of months making the case that their preferred candidate is in the best position to dethrone Trump. Backers of the two candidates have made compelling arguments. And as I noted prior to the polls closing on Super Tuesday, many people made calculated voting decisions with the purpose of stopping Trump, depending on how the polling looked in their state, rather than necessarily picking their favorite candidate.

As a Texan, I admit to doing this myself, reluctantly pulling the lever for Cruz despite months of criticizing him for his appeasement of Trump. Although Trump ultimately swept the Super Tuesday states of Georgia, Vermont, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Arkansas, Alabama and Virginia, while Texas, Oklahoma and Alaska went for Cruz and Minnesota went for Rubio, Trump hasn’t yet earned enough delegates to be the Republican nominee outright. This has stoked talk of a possible brokered Republican National Convention, which would lead to a floor fight over which candidate is nominated.

As Jim Ellis of Ellis Insights explained:

Though Trump has a clear lead in delegates, in no state has he obtained majority support, and in only three did his victories top 40 percent. Therefore, in all but Massachusetts and Alabama, more than 60 percent of voting Republicans have chosen another candidate. Conversely, of the committed delegates through the various state apportionment systems, Trump has secured 46.4 percent of the available delegates.

It appears the March 15 primary day will likely tell the tale. Should Trump win the key Winner-Take-All states of Florida (99 delegates) and Ohio (66 delegates), he will likely be unstoppable.

On the other hand, if his three major opponents strategically form an alliance and allow Rubio to challenge Trump virtually one-on-one in Florida, Kasich to have an unencumbered chance in Ohio, and Cruz the same in North Carolina (also on March 15), and they successfully top the leader in all of those places, the brokered convention becomes a clear reality.

This presents an interesting scenario to be sure – but it doesn’t seem as though Cruz would be willing to dial back in Florida. After all, Rubio campaigned in Cruz’s home state of Texas – and he still came in a distant third place with 17.7% of the vote to Cruz’s 43.8% and Trump’s 26.7%. Nevertheless, the strategic alliance route to prevent a Trump nomination, if possible to obtain, seems like the best option at this point, especially because Rubio doesn’t show any signs of heeding Cruz’s call for him to drop out of the race.

The truth is, polling shows, as I’ve suspected, that many of Cruz’s supporters would support Trump before Rubio. I assume this has to do with “anti-establishment” sentiments and hardline immigration views. As Kate Grumke wrote at Rare, “When it comes to second choices, more Cruz supporters say they would switch to Trump over Rubio (30% to 21%), according to an NBC News/Survey Monkey poll. But Rubio supporters would actually go to Cruz over Trump (28% to 9%). And Rubio and Cruz are almost tied for second place in many of the upcoming states, which doesn’t exactly pick a clear candidate to drop out.”

I hate to admit it but, as I wrote after the Nevada caucus, it seems like a Trump nomination is highly likely at this point, no matter what the other candidates do. A brokered convention is hypothetically possible but Rubio will have to exceed his polling in Florida by miles. Currently, Real Clear Politics has Trump with 43.3% of the vote in Rubio’s home state, who’s in second with 23.7%. Turns out that fellow Floridian Jeb Bush’s departure didn’t do too much for the junior senator.

If Trump is in fact the nominee, what this means for the future of the Republican Party is still anyone’s guess. As I wrote recently, I tend to believe that Trump won’t open the door to the kind of radical change that would blow up the GOP, as some libertarians and anti-establishment conservatives hope. More likely is that the Party will, with some exceptions, line up behind him and defend his big government agenda. I believe that Chris Christie’s endorsement of Trump, and the way he stood behind him on Super Tuesday, is indicative of that.

It’s true that some high profile elected Republicans are coming out and saying they won’t support Trump if he’s the nominee. Gov. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan and Rep. Scott Rigell of Virginia are four such men. But will the rebels be enough to drive the Party? Both Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan, the leaders of the GOP in congress, are currently struggling with this – yet have both said they’d support the eventual nominee. Realistically, nobody knows what will come next.

Rare Exclusive: Would Justin Amash run for president?

Friday, February 26th, 2016

Originally published at Rare

Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) is considered the most high profile libertarian Republican in Congress after Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.), making national waves with his staunch opposition to the National Security Agency’s controversial metadata collection program. Along with libertarian firebrand Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), Amash is one of two congressmen who are generally considered the most beloved by the Ron Paul-inspired liberty movement.

After originally supporting Sen. Paul’s presidential bid, who has since left the race, on Tuesday Rep. Amashendorsed Senator Ted Cruz for president. Amash noted in his endorsement in an op-ed at IJ Review, “Ted is not a libertarian and doesn’t claim to be.”

“But he is a principled defender of the Constitution, a brilliant strategist and debater who can defeat the Democratic nominee in the general election,” Amash said, adding that Cruz is “the only remaining candidate I trust to take on what he correctly calls the Washington Cartel.”

Some of Amash’s libertarian supporters cheered his Cruz endorsement while others seemed disappointed. Sen. Paul and Rep. Massie have said they’re not making any presidential endorsements during the Republican primary. Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC), also a leading libertarian Republican in the House, has endorsed Cruz. Former Rand Paul supporter Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Id.), a liberty-friendly leading member of the House Freedom Caucus and frequent Amash ally has also moved over to Cruz. Other former Paul supporters have also began to support Cruzin various states.

On Friday, Rep. Amash sat down with Rare to discuss his endorsement and what the future holds, both for him and the liberty movement.

Also: Does Justin Amash have any presidential ambitions?

Rare: Is there any context you can provide about the interactions you’ve had with Sen. Cruz that you allude to in your endorsement op-ed that make you believe he’s the remaining presidential candidate most likely to give liberty issues a hearing?

Justin Amash: I’ve seen Ted stand with Rand for hours on the Senate floor in opposition to U.S. drone policy. I’ve watched him vote against the NDAA, knowing he’d face attacks from people like Rubio, McCain, and Graham. I’ve spent time with him discussing our government’s failed interventions in Libya and Syria.

Ted cares about the Constitution, and that makes him a strong ally for libertarians despite our disagreements on some important issues.

Rare: Some of your libertarian supporters seem convinced that there’s no difference between Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. You reference Rubio once in your article. Could you expand upon why you think they’re so different from your vantage point as a libertarian Republican congressman?

Justin Amash: While campaigning, Ted and Marco often use rhetoric that unfortunately conflates their very different records. Marco Rubio comes from the McCain-Graham school of foreign policy and surveillance policy. Ted Cruz’s voting record, while not libertarian, more closely aligns with Senators Paul and Lee. When an issue arises relating to war or privacy, I can usually count on Ted to stand with me or at least thoughtfully consider my position. I can usually count on Marco to take the anti-liberty position.

Rare: On one hand, Sen. Cruz opposed Obama’s regime change in Libya and Syria. On the other, he’s talked about carpet bombing and “making sand glow.” What are libertarians to make of those statements?

Justin Amash: We shouldn’t be happy about those statements. And those statements don’t do justice to his voting record, which has been much better than most senators on matters of foreign policy.

Rare: You’ve long said that your work in House has helped to persuade your colleagues toward a more libertarian vision. What would you say to those in the liberty movement who are convinced that working within the Republican Party is a fruitless endeavor?

Justin Amash: Our work in the Republican Party has made a difference. My colleagues in the House Freedom Caucus have told me many times that I’ve made them more libertarian. And it’s evident in the votes. They’ve stood with me against corporate welfare, against unconstitutional NSA spying, against encryption backdoors, against wasteful Pentagon spending, and against arming Syrian rebels. Recently, when a cyber-spying bill was slipped into the omnibus, the House Freedom Caucus jointly offered an amendment to strip that section. We have stood together in support of liberty and the Constitution. With each new Congress, our numbers grow.

Rare: If Trump or Rubio were to become president, do you think that would make the liberty Republican faction even more crucial? To stop them from undermining the Constitution?

Justin Amash: Yes.

Rare: Many libertarians are dying to know: Would you consider running for president some day?

Justin Amash: It’s important that we have a strong libertarian voice running for president. And it’s important that we win. So, yes.

After South Carolina, Can Anybody Stop Trump?

Sunday, February 21st, 2016

Originally published at Every Joe

It’s a question on the minds of anyone concerned about the Republican Party’s future: How do we stop the hostile takeover of lifelong leftist Donald Trump? Trump has now won decisively in two very different early states: New Hampshire and South Carolina. And while his support seems to have a ceiling of 35% of the Republican primary electorate (with those who oppose him doing so viscerally) he seems to be the beneficiary of celebrity name ID, the fact that people want a perceived “outsider,” and a crowded field.

In South Carolina, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz were nearly tied for second place, with a combined total of 44.8% support. Trump received 32.5% of the vote. And Jeb Bush, who came in fourth then proceeded to suspend his campaign, received 7.8%. This leaves many speculating as to where Bush’s support will go, and if the Republican Party can stop Trump without uniting around one alternative to him. With Ben Carson (7.2%), John Kasich (7.6%), Cruz (22.3%), and Rubio (22.5%) still in the race, is it possible to take Trump out during the March 1st Super Tuesday contest?

Philip Bump at the The Washington Post wrote a story about where the supporters of various candidates will go as the field narrows. Granted, the survey he cites is far from scientific, but it provides a basic insight into what could happen as voters realign. This is a particularly pertinent question now that Bush has dropped out. As Bump wrote:

“The only way that Donald Trump will not win the GOP nomination, it seems, is if the voters who support Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush and John Kasich rally around Kasich or Rubio moving forward. This isn’t foolproof: Adding up Rubio, Bush and Kasich in national polling, for example, totals 30 percent, to Trump’s 34 percent. But in South Carolina it would have dropped Trump to second place, which is about as good as the Republican establishment could hope for.”

Infographic via Washington Post

Bump also raises some interesting points about Cruz. While Cruz outperformed expectations in New Hampshire and Rubio underperformed, the opposite happened in South Carolina. Cruz was supposed to turn out the evangelical vote, yet Trump won every county Cruz hyped as his territory, along with the evangelical vote overall. And evangelical vote was higher in 2016 than 2012; blunting Cruz’s theory that he’d turn out the religious conservatives who failed to support Romney.

Bump explained, “As we noted earlier this week, a race that narrows to just Trump vs. Rubio or just Trump vs. Ted Cruz is a race that Trump probably loses. But that requires Kasich and Carson and Rubio or Cruz getting out. March 15 is the Ohio primary and the Florida primary, which both Kasich and Rubio will want to hang around for — making it even less likely that Trump will suddenly start trailing a consolidated centrist candidate.”

That being said, Cruz isn’t going anywhere, and I still think he can do well on Super Tuesday. While he came in third place in South Carolina, the total vote difference between Cruz and Rubio was only 1,091. And that may have had a lot to do with Rubio’s key endorsements in South Carolina from Governor Nikki Haley, Senator Tim Scott, and Congressman Trey Gowdy. Cruz is still in a good position to perform well throughout the rest of the south.

But with Bush out, it’s not unreasonable to believe that the establishment wagons will start to circle around either Rubio or Kasich in a decisive fashion. There are reports that Mitt Romney plans to endorse Rubio this week, and it’s highly possible that many of Bush’s supporters, particularly those who value executive experience, will move their support and resources to Kasich, the only governor left in the race. This can’t be good news for Cruz, but it doesn’t mean he won’t be a contender.

With Bush out, and Nevada’s caucus on Tuesday, we’ll get a sense of how the field will shake up prior to March 1st. Trump’s support clearly has its limits, but the trouble for the GOP is how split the strong, and frankly pervasive, anti-Trump vote is. Theories have been floated that the Republican base should coalesce around a Rubio/Kasich ticket, with Rubio brokering a deal with Cruz that he’ll nominate him as a Supreme Court Justice.

On its face, this seems a bit far fetched. But at this point, anything is possible. Despite the proxy wars between Cruz and Rubio, many Republicans are eager to unite. Especially in pursuit of stopping Trump. Although no Republican who has won both New Hampshire and South Carolina has failed to get the nomination, this cycle has been stranger than fiction. What lies ahead is still anybody’s guess.

Ted Cruz just received an endorsement from this major conservative figure

Tuesday, February 16th, 2016

Originally published at Rare

Thomas Sowell, an economist, author, and philosopher, is a fixture within American conservatism. At 85 years old, he has contributed significantly to conservative intellectual thought as a professor of economics and leading syndicated columnist. His opinions are well respected on the right.

In the wake of Justice Scalia’s passing, Sowell made an endorsement in the presidential race on Tuesday, remarking on the importance of nominating the right Supreme Court Justice to replace Scalia, whom he referred to as a “giant.”

Wrote Sowell:

“If the Republicans are to avoid having Donald Trump lead them — and the country — to disaster, they are going to have to have the majority of non-Trump supporters get behind some given candidate.

Senator Ted Cruz has been criticized in this column before, and will undoubtedly be criticized here again. But we can only make our choices among those actually available, and Senator Cruz is the one who comes to mind when depth and steadfastness come to mind.

As someone who once clerked for a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, he will know how important choosing Justice Scalia’s replacement will be. And he has the intellect to understand much more.”

A great deal of partisan bickering has ensued since Justice Scalia passed away just days ago. Yet, both Republicans and Democrats have tried to block or delay Supreme Court nominees throughout history. So there’s very little moral high ground for either side to take here.

Assuming Republicans in the Senate block whomever President Obama nominates to the Supreme Court, and the Party then goes on to win the presidency in November, Sowell has a point. Cruz’s background as Solicitor General of Texas and as a law clerk for former Chief Justice Rehnquist no doubt make him the most qualified in the Republican field to handle a Supreme Court nomination. But a lot of unanswered questions remain.

Which candidate within the Republican field is poised to win a general election? Will any one candidate necessarily be better than any other when it comes to nominating a Supreme Court Justice? Who’s to say a President Rubio or Kasich would reject Cruz’s sage counsel? One could just as easily position Scalia’s passing as the strongest argument for nominating the most electable Republican for the general election. It’s not clear Cruz fits that bill.

There’s still a ways to go before Republicans settle on their nominee. South Carolina and Nevada will tell us a lot. AsRare’s Kevin Boyd wrote about recent post-New Hampshire and pre-South Carolina polling, “Trump is largely consistent in his numbers. . . . Marco Rubio, and to a lesser extent John Kasich, are surging off their debate performances. Rubio and Kasich appear to be gaining at the expense of Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush.”

Will Sowell’s hope of a Cruz nomination become a reality? Only time will tell. So far, Cruz has performed the strongest as an alternative to Trump. But with such a large Republican field, and so many states left to vote, we will learn more moving forward than we have from either Iowa or New Hampshire as choices become sparser.

The South Carolina Republican primary is February 20th, with the Nevada Republican caucus taking place on February 23rd. Those are the last two Republican contests prior to Super Tuesday on March 1st, when the greatest number of states so far will vote on the same day.