Surrounded by throngs Monday at Liberty University, the largest Evangelical Christian university in the world, Texas U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, as hard-right a Christian as they come, wrapped himself in the constitution, cloaked himself with the flag, and talked as if the Lord’s hands were on him as he did what none of the other dozen or so Republicans who aspire to run and win the presidency in 2016 have had the gumption to do so far.
Pacing around a platform today in Lynchburg at the university founded by the late American evangelical leader Jerry Falwell, Sen. Cruz, who has only been in the Senate as many years as Barack Obama was before he took his leap of faith in 2008, spoke without notes or teleprompters, feeding his adoring audience the red meant reasons behind his announcement today that he is in the GOP race for President of the United States.
Rafael Edward “Ted” Cruz, a Harvard educated lawyer who has staked out his claim since elected to the Senate in 2012 as anti-Obama and anti-Obamacare, set the bar high today for other GOP candidates who want to win base voters in the primary season based on their bondafides as conservative, religious and anti-Obama. For Republicans who argue Democrats won the last two presidential elections because their candidates, John McCain in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012 were not conservative enough, Cruz’s announcement today is a warning shot to the large field of possible White House wannabees who want to win the primary season by appealing to the harshest segments of the GOP, and still appeal to moderates, swing voters and independents in the General Election.
Unlike top tier candidates so far, like former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush or sitting Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Sen. Cruz came out with guns glazing, as he promised to repeal the entirety of Obamacare, the nickname Republicans dubbed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. He talked about faith and values, and restoring the constitution, two political standards essential to any politically correct GOP attack on President Obama. Jeb Bush, a former two-term governor of Florida, wants to work the middle of the electorate, while Scott Walker, a two-term governor of Wisconsin who fended off a recall election, wants to do the same from a baseline of activity that shows he has contained government activity and will cripple or eliminate unions if he has a chance, which he did recently by adding Wisconsin to states with right-to-work legislation, an accomplishment conservative politicians relish because it depletes union coffers of funds that are mostly spent on Democratic candidates and issues.
In an important swing state like Ohio, where its Gov. John Kasich has been playing peek-a-boo with reporters on whether he’s in the race or not while maintaining a travel schedule sending him to important primary states like South Carolina and New Hampshire, Cruz’ announcement today ups the stakes for long-shot wannabees like Kasich to declare or watch the race from the sidelines. Kasich knows this all too well, since it happened to him once before, in 2000, when the campaign of then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush forced Kasich’s weak campaign to crash after a few months of dreaming the impossible dream.
Cruz is widely known from the political bombast he’s delivered on, while Gov. Kasich is little known to America outside of the Fox News Channel and Ohio media, which routinely fawns over his every breath and tittle. With 18 Electoral College votes, Ohio arguably remains the biggest battleground state to win among the dozen or so that elections teeter on today. Kasich’s peek-a-boo campaign of “I’m interested…but not enough to get in the ring” and duke it out with the likes of Cruz, or Bush or Walker, is both tiresome and a bit boring. It also shows Kasich’s well-known pattern of waiting until the deck is stacked in his favor before he makes his move.