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What’s holding Cruz back?

March 21, 2016

The senator from Texas is the most likely to win or at least deny Donald Trump a first-ballot victory at the RNC convention.

Most voters know Senator Cruz as “that guy that shut down the government” in 2013. Some polls have him with up to a 8-point disadvantage against Donald Trump.

With that background in mind, his colleagues are now faced with the unlikely task of pivoting from whomever they supported before to Ted Cruz. That will take some serious control of their gag reflexes.

Nonetheless, Senator Cruz is the only viable person left standing for ABT (Anybody but Trump) politicians and voters alike to rally around.

The nation could do worse, so why isn’t he catching on?

Theoretically, his policy positions as stated on his website aren’t really so different from Trump’s, leading to the occasional criticism that he is the “Trump-lite” candidate.

Where he really differs is in his style of messaging. It’s not that he isn’t articulate.  He is.

Ted Cruz sounds coherent when he speaks, unlike Donald Trump who can’t seem to get a whole sentence out without interweaving several topics.

He’s also far more understanding, although not necessarily accepting, of the tedious legislative process, i.e. the physical steps necessary to write a bill, introduce it and move it through to passage.

It’s that last part that has tripped Cruz up to date.

He is very technically qualified, but has had trouble assembling coalitions from his side of the aisle, never mind from the other side.

People watching the debates seem to have the same visceral reaction to him.

You know, the reaction that causes the hair on the back of your neck to stand up.

People watching him have used words like shifty, cunning, preachy, ideologically rigid, predatory, saturnine, and cold fish to describe their initial reaction.

He just doesn’t seem able to project hope for better times ahead. With Cruz, it often seems like all stick and no carrot.

In short, they don’t like his personality, at least what they see on TV. Add to that the number of questionable campaign tactics that trace back his campaign, and you have a solidly negative voter reaction.

Some people have questioned his 10% flat tax policy, citing any number of studies that show that number to be just too low to support even the bare necessities of government, much less to generate enough funds to retire the national debt.

Combine that with the voter’s  instinctive reactions to him, and you have people wondering what he isn’t telling us about where the rest of the money is coming from and when.

Then there is the matter of his electability in a general election. Polling on that is about a month old, but on the RCP poll aggregation, he averages out with just 8/10’s of a percent lead over Hillary Clinton. Operationally, that’s not enough to make a difference. Newer polling may show an improvement related to the shrinking field of candidates.

Given that the tea leaves would indicate that there is now no chance Mrs. Clinton will face legal action during her campaign, his pledge to pursue the email/Benghazi/influence peddling investigation may well turn out to be his best selling point with GOP voters.

This former Texas Solicitor General is a born prosecutor, and you can bet that he will instruct his researchers to assemble a campaign strategy that will destroy whatever credibility Mrs. Clinton has left. That won’t matter to her base, but may be useful with the swing vote.

Ted Cruz has everything it takes to be an above-average President at this time in history.

He is intellectually strong, totally committed to the Constitution, logical, thoughtful, and certainly no pushover for our enemies at home and abroad.

Of the three, Cruz is also the closest thing to a law-and-order candidate on the ticket. In this contentious environment that’s a plus.

In spite of those positives, if he can’t sell himself to the public, none of that will matter.

From → op-ed

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