Feb. 12, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Ted Cruz for President? Not So Fast | Rothenberg

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call
Cruz has plenty of admirers around the country, but that constituency is a distinct minority nationally, Rothenberg writes.

When a former GOP governor asked me the other day whether he would see another Republican elected to the White House in his lifetime, I asked him exactly how old he was.

Of course, I said, eventually there would be another Republican in the White House. It might even come soon. A Democratic president will screw up (think Benghazi, the IRS and higher taxes from the health care overhaul), and a Republican will be elected simply because voters want change. But I understood the question’s premise, as well as the larger point he was making.

More than a few Republicans seem worried that their party didn’t draw the right message from 2012.

Recent talk about the possibility of a 2016 White House bid by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who was described by former South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint as “one of the strongest Republicans in the country right now,” probably has many GOP strategists looking for a bomb shelter in which to jump.

“I’ve been in 25 cities in the last few months, all I have to do is mention Ted Cruz’s name and they stand up and cheer. They’re hungry for someone who is not afraid, willing to stand up and trying to change the status quo,” DeMint, who now runs The Heritage Foundation, said before a major political dinner in the Palmetto State recently.

I hear silliness like that all the time from politicians on both sides of the aisle.

DeMint can’t possibly believe that the kind of people who are attending a state party fundraising dinner or showing up at Heritage Foundation events around the country are a random sample of public opinion, a coincidental cross section of the American electorate, can he?

Obviously, most people who go to see DeMint agree with him and want more Jim DeMints elected to high office. No wonder they cheer and praise Cruz.

And what could DeMint have possibly meant by saying the Texan was among the “strongest Republicans in the country”? Cruz may be strong like garlic, but not strong like Ronald Reagan, a politician with broad electoral appeal.

While there are plenty of Cruz admirers around the country, that constituency is a distinct minority nationally.

Cruz is smart (he attended Princeton and Harvard Law School, and clerked for Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist), and he has strong appeal to Republicans who see every battle in ideological terms, as a fight of good versus evil.

But that isn’t most Americans. And it certainly isn’t most swing voters.

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