Ted Cruz sucked all the oxygen out of the room today with his official declaration of his candidacy to be America’s next president.
He stole a march on the rest of the field, who will now be scrambling to catch up. It was a brilliant piece of political strategy.
By making his first campaign appearance at Liberty University, the largest evangelical school in the world, Cruz was also sending a powerful message to the conservative Christian base: “I’m one of you.” He was telling evangelicals that they are his base. He openly embraced evangelicals in a way we have not seen since the days of Ronald Reagan.
It’s impossible for a Republican to win the nomination or the presidency without the enthusiastic support of the evangelical base. You can ask Romney and McCain all about that. Cruz will generate the kind of fervor and energy among the confessing evangelicals that’s required to win. He in fact may lock up the evangelical bloc before the other conservatives are even out of the gate.
Four million conservative voters stayed home in 2012 and in so doing handed the election to Barack Obama. Cruz will draw those four million conservatives to the polls, and they will bring their friends with them. Lots of them.
Political consultants, who have made an astonishing amount of money telling Republicans how to lose one election after another, have got it all wrong on the precious “independents.” Their template is that there are Republicans on the right, Democrats on the left, with all the independents somewhere in between.
What this template completely fails to account for is the number of independents who are to the right of today’s mushy-middle GOP establishment. They are independent, not because the Republican Party is too conservative for them, but because it is not conservative enough.
To borrow from Ronald Reagan, they didn’t leave the Republican Party, the Republican Party left them. Ted Cruz will bring the party back to them and he will bring them back to the party. He will win the independents who count, the ones who can put the Republicans in the win column in 2016.
It will be fascinating to watch the weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth among the GOP establishment should Cruz’s candidacy take flight. We will soon find out if there is enough room for Ted Cruz in their precious “Big Tent.” Their tent may prove to be a lot smaller than they want us to believe.
The GOP elites have always taken evangelical voters for granted. They have condescendingly thrown us a bone or two in the platform, then patted us on the head and told us to go to our rooms and be seen and not heard. They have assumed we will vote GOP because we have no other place to go.
Those days will be over with a Cruz nomination. It will be the GOP establishment that will have no place to go. Evangelicals will say it’s about time the elites have to hold their noses and vote for our guy for a change.
In its profile of Ted Cruz, the New York Times said that GOP elites are "skeptical of and angry with (Ted) Cruz." Sounds like he just might be the guy we’re looking for.