The establishment has spent the past few weeks warning conservatives that Ted Cruz is simply too mean and nasty to be the Republican Party’s nominee for president.
“We’ll lose if he’s our nominee,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah.
“His ability to grow the vote of the Republican Party is almost zero,” said South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham.
“There’s no doubt he has harmed relationships,” added Sen. John McCain of Arizona.
“There’ll be wholesale losses if he’s the nominee,” former Kansas Sen. Bob Dole warned. “Our party is not that far right.”
Aside from their moderate political philosophy and a shared loathing of Cruz, what do those senators have in common? They all ran uninspiring presidential campaigns and either never emerged from the primaries or were badly beaten in the general election.
So who would heed advice from this bunch? Not too many Iowans, it turns out. Republicans there showed up in record numbers earlier this week to deliver the primary season’s first win to Cruz, and in the process they endorsed his conservative message and forcefully rebuked the establishment’s candidates.
One of Cruz’s surrogate speakers who helped deliver that winning message to Iowa voters was U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, the conservative Republican who represents several northern Alabama counties.
“Ted Cruz is the only candidate for president who has a proven track record of doing the right thing,” Brooks told reporters before heading to Iowa to give speeches on Cruz’s behalf on caucus night.
Conservatives in Alabama should also listen to Brooks. He’s been in Congress for a few years and rather than going wobbly and joining the establishment, the former Madison County commissioner has become a leader in the House’s Freedom Caucus and a vocal opponent of amnesty. Brooks formally endorsed Cruz last November and has spent several weeks asking other conservative voters to consider the Texas senator.
“America needs a president with both a keen intellect and understanding of the foundational principles that have made America great and the backbone to defend and promote those foundational principles in the face of intense political pressure to do the wrong thing,” Brooks said during his endorsement. “Ted Cruz’s record proves he has the intellect, strength of character, and backbone to do what is best for America in the face of stiff political winds that seek to blow our nation off course.”
Brooks is right. During the brief time Cruz has been upon the national stage, he has proven three important things:
First, that he’s a conservative. Every position taken during his campaign has been staunchly conservative, and every vote he cast as a senator has been consistent with our movement’s principles.
Second, that he can take a punch. The media, the Democrats, and even the Republican establishment have viciously attacked Cruz, yet he never wavered or withdrew from the fight.
Third, that he can throw a punch. In Iowa, Cruz took on a political dynasty, several current and former governors, popular conservative senators, a loveable outsider, and a brash billionaire … and won.
We don’t normally see all of those qualities in a candidate for president, and it’s an opportunity we may not soon get again. So conservatives in Alabama should give this man a serious second look.
Other than the viability of a Cruz candidacy, the Iowa caucuses showed conservatives that, finally, we have a great field of candidates to choose from. Florida Senator Marco Rubio is an inspiring defender of conservatism and would be an effective advocate of the movement’s goals, if one can forgive his singular lapse of judgment on immigration reform (I have). His third-place finish shows he’s quite electable, as well.
In fact, it’s worthy to mention that 62-percent of Republicans in Iowa cast their votes for a Latino, an African-American, or a woman (28-percent for Cruz, 23-percent for Rubio, 9-percent for Dr. Ben Carson, and 2-percent for Carly Fiorina). Contrast that with the Democrats, who gave 100-percent of their votes to either a crazed socialist or a former First Lady who’ll probably be indicted.
With those opponents in mind, we shouldn’t worry about the has-been establishment’s handwringing about nominating candidates who they believe are too conservative.
In fact, their fears might be the greatest endorsement of all.