Sen. Ted Cruz knowingly misstated CNN’s reporting during Saturday’s Republican primary debate, despite the fact that CNN’s reporting was correct all along.

Cruz blamed CNN for a message his campaign sent to supporters the night of the Iowa caucuses suggesting Carson was going to suspend his campaign.

“My political team saw CNN’s report breaking news and they forwarded that news to our volunteers, it was being covered on live television,” Cruz said during the debate.

Cruz also claimed CNN had inaccurately reported that Carson was suspending his campaign “from 6:30 p.m. to 9:15,” and “didn’t correct that story until 9:15 that night.”

That is false. CNN never reported that Carson was suspending his campaign and never issued a correction, because there was no need to do so.

In a statement out Saturday night, CNN responded, “What Senator Cruz said tonight in the debate is categorically false. CNN never corrected its reporting because CNN never had anything to correct. The Cruz campaign’s actions the night of the Iowa caucuses had nothing to do with CNN’s reporting. The fact that Senator Cruz continues to knowingly mislead the voters about this is astonishing.”

The controversy stems from a CNN scoop that was broadcast last Monday night, minutes before the Iowa caucuses began. Reporter Chris Moody received information from the Carson campaign that he would be taking a break from the campaign trail after Iowa.

Moody, and the other CNN reporters who followed up on the report, said Carson would continue campaigning after taking a break at home in Florida. His next stop, they said, would be Washington, D.C., for the National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday.

During CNN’s live coverage, Jake Tapper and Dana Bash called the move “very unusual,” but said nothing about Carson dropping out of the race.

Nevertheless, the Cruz campaign sent a message to supporters in Iowa suggesting that Carson might be suspending his campaign.

“The press is reporting that Dr. Ben Carson is taking time off from the campaign trail after Iowa and making a big announcement next week,” the Cruz campaign email read. “Please inform and Carson caucus goers of this news and urge them to caucus for Cruz.”

Shortly after the CNN report came out, Carson’s campaign downplayed the significance, saying the candidate needed a fresh set of clothes. Meanwhile, political analysts generally agreed with Tapper and Bash’s assessment that it was unusual for a presidential candidate to not rush to New Hampshire. Virtually all of Carson’s rivals hurried to New Hampshire after the caucuses.

The next morning, Carson’s side started lambasting Cruz for “dirty tricks.” This prompted a half-apology from Cruz that pointed a finger at CNN.

“Last night when our political team saw the CNN post saying Dr. Carson was not carrying on to New Hampshire and South Carolina, our campaign updated the grassroots leaders just as we would with any breaking news story. That’s fair game,” Cruz said in a statement. “What the team should have done is send around the follow-up statement from the Carson campaign clarifying that he was indeed staying in the race when that came out. That was a mistake from our end, and for that I apologize to Dr. Carson.”

Essentially the Cruz campaign ignored the inconvenient part of CNN’s original report — that Carson was not dropping out of the race.

In fact, Moody said so explicitly on Twitter: “He plans to stay in the race beyond Iowa no matter what the results are tonight.”



Ted Cruz gets burned by the birther fires he stoked


When you dance with the devil, the choreography can get awkward.

Ted Cruz this week made his latest appeal to America’s nativist fringe by naming Rep. Steve King of Iowa as a national co-chairman of his presidential campaign. King, called a “courageous conservative” and “incredible leader” by Cruz, is the anti-immigrant hardliner who spoke of Mexican immigrants having “calves the size of cantaloupes” and who was a prominent birther.

King raised questions about President Obama’s birth certificate, voiced doubts that Obama had been born in America, floated the idea that Obama’s birth announcement in Hawaiian newspapers may have been placed “by telegram from Kenya,” and alleged that Obama “was not raised with an American experience.”

So we’re entitled to savor some schadenfreude now as Cruz himself gets caught in the birther web. Donald Trump’s questioning of Cruz’s status as a natural-born American, and therefore his eligibility to be president, is rough justice. Cruz, like Trump, has stoked the fires of resentment and xenophobia, so it’s entirely fitting that he gets burned.

But however tempting it is, I’m not joining in the Cruz birtherism; it was wrong when done to Obama, and it’s wrong now done to Cruz. Cruz, I am convinced, would make a truly awful president, but he is perfectly eligible to serve.

Rep. Alan Grayson, a Democratic gadfly running for the Senate in Florida, vows to file a lawsuit challenging Cruz’s eligibility if he wins the nomination. Grayson would try to argue that both parents of Cruz, born in Canada to an American mother and a Cuban father, had to be American citizens for Cruz to be considered a “natural born” citizen under the Constitution. Grayson also has questions about the U.S. birth of Cruz’s mother. “The Obama birthers are loons,” Grayson told U.S. News this week. But “there’s a very good legal argument that Ted Cruz is not qualified to be president.”

Like Cruz foe John McCain (the 2008 Republican presidential nominee said Cruz’s eligibility is a “legitimate question”), Democratic leaders have been happy to see Cruz twist in the wind. “I do think there is a distinction between John McCain being born to a family serving our country in Panama and someone born in another country,” House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said Thursday.

But that’s not really so. My friend Neal Katyal, who was Obama’s acting solicitor general, joined Paul Clement, a Bush solicitor general, in a Harvard Law Review piece last year arguing that it’s not even a close call: the constitutional evidence back to the founding makes clear that “an individual born to a U.S. citizen parent — whether in California or Canada or the Canal Zone — is a U.S. citizen from birth and is fully eligible to serve as president.”

An argument to the contrary would rest largely on the dubious premise that a child born overseas to an American mother is not as American as a child born overseas to an American father. Congress long ago eliminated such a discriminatory application of the law.

And that gets to the broader point: Do Democrats and liberals and all those who howled about the injustice and the outrage of Obama’s birtherism really want to join the cause of Cruz birtherism, simply because he’s a Republican, or a conservative? No doubt it would be satisfying to give conservatives a taste of their own medicine, but that would mean embracing the nativism that is turning the Republican Party it into a fraternity of old white men from rural areas. The right is uniquely ill-behaved these days. Why join them?

It wasn’t always this way; in the early days of the Obama presidency I argued that the left was more ill-tempered. But now there’s nothing equivalent to the right’s rage – despite attempts to draw some phony parallels.

When I wrote about the overt racism injected into the campaign by Trump, the 2016 frontrunner, conservative critics countered by citing the history of race-baiting by the Rev. Al Sharpton, a minor Democratic candidate in the 2004 race. When I wrote this week about Republican office holders’ support for the armed men who took over a U.S. government facility in Oregon, conservatives argued that this was no different from Obama’s tolerance of Sanctuary Cities –though sanctuary policies have existed for decades without successful legal challenges.

 Then there’s the birther movement, led by Trump, which sought to portray the first African American president as a foreigner. Now Trump is, with his characteristic disregard for truth, attempting to turn the same nativist forces against his nearest competitor in the Republican primary.

There is no equivalent on the left these days to such nasty stuff. Democrats should keep it that way.


Media Blast Ted Cruz’s “Dishonesty” And “Hypocrisy” Over Previous Immigration Positions


Media criticized GOP presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) for claiming he never supported legalizing undocumented immigrants by pointing to his documented support of legalization in 2013.

Ted Cruz Distorted His Immigration Reform Record At The GOP Debate

Ted Cruz Claimed He “Never Supported Legalization” Of Undocumented ImmigrantsDuring the December 15 GOP presidential debate Ted Cruz claimed that he “led the fight against [Sen. Marco Rubio’s] legalization and amnesty” immigration reform bill in 2013. After Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said that Cruz “support[s] legalizing people who are in this country illegally,” Cruz responded that “it is not accurate what [Rubio] just said” and that he “never supported legalization, and I do not intend to support legalization”:

[MARCO] RUBIO: As far as Ted’s record, I’m always puzzled by his attack on this issue. Ted, you support legalizing people who are in this country illegally. Ted Cruz supported a 500-percent increase in the number of H-1 visas, the guest workers that are allowed into this country, and Ted supports doubling the number of green cards. So I think what’s important for us to understand and there is a way forward on this issue that we can bring our country together on. And while I’m president I will do it. And it will begin by bringing illegal immigration under control and proving to the American people.


[TED] CRUZ: Look, I understand Marco wants to raise confusion, it is not accurate what he just said that I supported legalization. Indeed, I led the fight against his legalization and amnesty. And you know, there was one commentator that put it this way that, for Marco to suggest our record’s the same is like suggesting “the fireman and the arsonist because they are both at the scene of the fire.” He was fighting to grant amnesty and not to secure the border, I was fighting to secure the border. And this also goes to trust, listening on to campaign trails. Candidates all the time make promises. You know, Marco said,” he learned that the American people didn’t trust the federal government.”


RUBIO: Did Ted Cruz fight to support legalizing people that are in this country illegally?

CRUZ: He campaigned promising to lead the fight against amnesty.


RUBIO: Does Ted Cruz rule out ever legalizing people that are in this country now?

BASH: Senator Cruz?

CRUZ; I have never supported a legalization…

RUBIO: Would you rule it out?

CRUZ : I have never supported legalization, and I do not intend to support legalization. Let me tell you how you do this, what you do is you enforce the law …. [TIME12/15/15]

But In 2013, Cruz Supported Legalization Of Undocumented Immigrants And “Want[ed] Immigration Reform To Pass.” In a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on May 21, 2013, Cruz sponsored an amendment to the Gang of Eight’s comprehensive immigration reform bill that would have “allowed undocumented immigrants to remain in the United States permanently and obtain legal status.” At the hearing, Cruz urged his colleagues to support his amendment, which he said “allows those who are here illegally to come in out of the shadows.” He further said, “I don’t want immigration reform to fail. I want immigration reform to pass.” [Yahoo News, 12/16/15, United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary, 5/21/13]

Media Criticize Cruz For Lying At The Debate About His Previous Support For Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Yahoo News: “Cruz Has Changed His Story” And “Misrepresented His Own Intentions.” Yahoo News senior political correspondent Jon Ward blasted Ted Cruz for his “dishonesty on immigration,” writing that “it is very hard to square” his support for legalizing undocumented immigrants in 2013 “with [his] claim [at the debate] that he ‘never supported legalization.'” Ward noted that in addition to reversing his position, “Cruz is also claiming that he was not truthful at the time about what he was up to,” which, if true, would mean he “blatantly misrepresented his own intentions at the time on at least four occasions”:

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, won plaudits in Tuesday night’s debate for his takedown of Sen. Marco Rubio’s, R-Fla., immigration reform effort in 2013.

Yet if Cruz’s explanation of why he proposed an amendment to the 2013 legislation is true, then he blatantly misrepresented his own intentions at the time on at least four occasions.

Cruz denied on Tuesday that he has ever supported legal status for undocumented immigrants.

“I have never supported legalization, and I do not intend to support it,” Cruz said, when questioned by Rubio.

In 2013, however, Cruz sponsored an amendment that would have allowed undocumented immigrants to remain in the United States permanently and obtain legal status, while eliminating a path to citizenship. It is very hard to square that effort with Cruz’s claim that he has “never supported legalization.”

That doesn’t stop him from trying, however. Cruz’s campaign said last month that his 2013 amendment was a “poison pill,” intended to undercut the main legislation and reduce its chances of passing. By eliminating a path to citizenship, Cruz hoped to turn Democrats against the bill. Top Cruz spokesman Rick Tyler repeated the “poison pill” assertion after the debateTuesday.


It’s no surprise that in a GOP presidential primary season, Cruz has changed his story about why he put forward an amendment that would have provided a path for legal status, if not citizenship.

The Texan is competing with Donald “I’m going to build a wall” Trump to win over a conservative base that is even more agitated about illegal immigration than it was in the summer of 2013.

But in changing his story, Cruz is also claiming that he was not truthful at the time about what he was up to. The Cruz campaign has yet to respond to a request for comment. [Yahoo News, 12/16/15]

Daily Beast: Cruz “Change[d] His Immigration Tune At Breakneck Speed.” On December 17 The Daily Beast’s Betsy Woodruff wrote that Cruz “comes perilously close — if not slightly over the line — to taking multiple positions on” immigration reform after “chang[ing] his immigration tune at breakneck speed.” Woodruff noted that there “are two schools of thought on the right regarding immigration,” and Cruz “is trying to be in both — which is damn near impossible without a little bit of dishonesty one way or the other”:

Ted Cruz loves legal immigrants. Except when he hates them.

Thus–as a post-game interview with Jake Tapper after last night’s debate suggested–he’s having a little trouble explaining exactly where he comes down on immigrants who actually play by the rules.

“If someone is here illegally and apprehended, they will be sent back to their home country,” he said. “It’s critical. I’m also a big advocate of welcoming and celebrating legal immigrants. And I think most Americans agree with the principle legal: good, illegal: bad.”

But here’s the hiccup: Cruz struggles mightily to decide whether or not he actually agrees with that principle.

On one hand, Cruz–like many immigration hardliners–wants to stop illegal immigration. But he also wants restrictions on legal immigrants and that’s where threading the needle gets tricky on an issue he can’t afford to mess up.

The senator, like every single other politician in America, talks differently depending on what audience he’s addressing. But, unlike some of those other folks, the Texas senator comes perilously close–if not slightly over the line–to taking multiple positions on this issue, the single most contentious of the campaign.

And just like he said one thing about Donald Trump behind closed doors and another on the debate stage, he changes his immigration tune at breakneck speed.

But unlike his personal assessment of Trump’s character, his views on immigration policy — namely, whether legal immigration is good or bad–actually matter as the debate over the border and who is allowed to comes across becomes increasingly important in the Republican field. And he’s bending over backwards to make them totally unclear. [Daily Beast, 12/17/15]

CNN’s Alisyn Camerota: Ted Cruz Struggles To Explain His 2013 Immigration Position “Because He’s FlipFlopped.” On the December 17 edition of CNN’s New Day, host Alisyn Camerota highlighted that “the reason … Ted Cruz is struggling to explain [his previous support for legalization] is because he’s flip-flopped,” explaining, “He supported a path to legalization … and now he’s trying to claim that he didn’t”:

MAGGIE HABERMAN: Ted Cruz for the first time yesterday seemed to struggle on the issue of immigration. He has been very, very clear and focused and smooth in his responses. He was during the debate. But in an interview last night, it was the first time that he stammered, he had trouble getting through it. He introduced an amendment to what was the immigration reform bill in 2013.

ALISYN CAMEROTA (HOST): The Gang of Eight bill, that he now criticizes.


HABERMAN: He had trouble defending this yesterday. It was again the first time – Cruz is an expert debater, this has been written about repeatedly. He is very polished. This is the first time he is getting real scrutiny. It’s also the first time Marco Rubio is getting real scrutiny.

CAMEROTA: Errol, the reason that he is struggling, that Ted Cruz is struggling to explain that is because he’s flip-flopped. He supported a path to legalization, to legality in 2013 and now he’s trying to claim that he didn’t. And Rubio called him out at the debate. he said, you supported it. And he was like no. No, I didn’t. He changed the subject basically. But he did. [CNN, New Day12/17/15]

Texas Tribune: Cruz Has Made “A Clean Break From His Own Record.” On December 16 The Texas Tribune reported that “a far different Ted Cruz has shown up on the campaign trail” after his immigration “flip-flop,” noting that Cruz’s current hardline immigration position “wasn’t always the case.” The Tribune further wrote that Cruz has “distanced himself from the positions he advocated” in the past and has made “a clean break from his own record”:

Listen to Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz on immigration policy these days and there’s little daylight between the firebrand senator and GOP frontrunner Donald Trump.

They’re both in the deport-first-and-ask-questions-later camp.

But that wasn’t always the case. In the summer of 2013, as Congress was mulling sweeping immigration reforms, Cruz was promoting a “middle ground” that would have dramatically boosted legal immigration and even given legal status and work permits to millions of undocumented immigrants already living in the country.


A far different Ted Cruz has shown up on the campaign trail in recent weeks. Gone are the pledges to double legal immigration to 1.35 million people a year — up from 675,000 — and to eliminate the country-by-country caps that Cruz said at the time “penalizes the nation of Mexico significantly.”

That proposal included a whopping fivefold increase in legal temporary work permits, known as H-1B visas.

Cruz jettisoned those increases weeks ago when he advocated for restrictions on legal immigration until the economy improves and specifically called for a temporary moratorium on all H1-B visas.

For weeks after that flip-flop, which was contained in his sweeping immigration campaign proposal, Cruz took heat for repeatedly refusing to answer what he would do with the estimated 11 to 12 million undocumented immigrants who are in the country now.

That nuance disappeared Tuesday at the Venetian Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, where Cruz took the GOP debate stage as a top tier candidate for president and distanced himself from the positions he advocated as a newly minted U.S. senator. [Texas Tribune12/16/15]

Establishment Right-Wing Media Are Also Calling Out Cruz’s Hypocrisy

Fox News’ Bret Baier: “Looking Back … Which One Should People Believe?” On the December 16 edition of Fox News’ Special Report, host Bret Baier grilled Cruz on his immigration reversal, asking Cruz to “square that circle” of hypocrisy. Baier pressed Cruz to answer “looking back at what you said then, and what you’re saying now, which one should people believe?” After Cruz responded that the Gang of Eight bill “was a terrible bill,” Baier countered and said “that’s not what you said at the time”:

BRET BAIER (HOST): Now that amendment would have allowed undocumented immigrants to remain in the U.S. permanently and obtain legal status, so how do you square that circle?

TED CRUZ: Actually, Bret, it wouldn’t have. What was happening there is that was the battle over the Gang of Eight, the Rubio-Schumer amnesty bill, which was a massive amnesty bill proposed by Senator Rubio, by Chuck Schumer and Barack Obama. And I was leading the fight against amnesty. I was standing shoulder to shoulder with Jeff Sessions, I was standing shoulder to shoulder with Steve King, leading the fight to secure the borders, and what I did — that particular amendment was an amendment I introduced to remove citizenship, to say those who are here illegally shall be permanently ineligible for citizenship. Now, the fact that I introduced an amendment to remove part of the Gang of Eight bill doesn’t mean I support the rest of the Gang of Eight bill. The Gang of Eight bill was a mess, it was a terrible bill.


BAIER: That is not what you said at the time. And Yahoo dug up these quotes from back then. You said, “‘If this amendment were to pass, the chances of this bill passing into law would increase dramatically.’ A few weeks later, during a debate on the senate floor, Cruz repeated his belief that this amendment is the compromise that can pass.” And you repeated later in Princeton that “If my amendment were adopted, this bill would pass.” It sounded like you wanted the bill to pass.


CRUZ: What my amendment did is take citizenship off the table, but it doesn’t mean, it doesn’t mean that I supported the other aspects of the bill, which was a terrible bill. And Bret, you’ve been around Washington long enough, you know how to defeat bad legislation. Which is what that amendment did is it revealed the hypocrisy of Chuck Schumer and the Senate Democrats and the establishment Republicans who were supporting them, because they all voted against it. And listen, I’ll give you the simplest proof why this notion that my fighting amnesty somehow made me a supporter of amnesty. Jeff Sessions voted with me on my amendment to eliminate citizenship. Now is anyone remotely suggesting that Jeff Sessions supports amnesty? Of course not.


BAIER: The problem though is that at the time you were telling people like Byron York with The Washington Examiner that this was not a poison pill. You told him, “My objective was not to kill immigration reform.” You said you wanted it to pass at the time, so my question to you is looking back at what you said then, and what you’re saying now, which one should people believe? [Fox News, Special Report12/16/15]

Charles Krauthammer: Cruz‘s Previous Support For Legalization “Was Exposed” And His Reversal “Is Not A Defensible Position.” On the December 16 edition of Fox News’ Special Report, Fox contributor Charles Krauthammer hammered Cruz for his “mistake” of falsely claiming he never supported legalization at the GOP debate, saying that “it’s clear from the record … that he wanted to pass the bill” and wanted “legalization.” Krauthammer criticized Cruz for his reversal, saying “it is not a defensible position and that was exposed today”:

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: The Rubio/Cruz match last night was the highlight of the evening. But what’s so interesting is what it led to today. Rubio was willing to take a hit on an issue he knows he is the least popular with with the GOP electorate. But he did it in order to be able to ask one question of Cruz, which is always a danger in the debate. A, you’re giving up your time. And, b, you have no idea what he’s going to say. But what he elicited from Cruz was the statement that he had never supported legalization. And that was a mistake as was exposed in this unbelievable questioning that you did today, because when you asked him that, he had no answer. He pretends now that he did that in order to kill the bill. But it’s clear from the record that he said at the time repeatedly, and not even in Congress but even in the meeting at Princeton with one of his old professors, Robbie George, that he wanted to pass the bill, but wanted instead of citizenship, legalization. The fact that he said he never supported it is not a defensible position, and that was exposed today. So that was a very complicated chess match between the two. Cruz had the better of it last night, but now he is stuck with something he’s going to have to explain away that is not very easy. [Fox News,Special Report12/16/16]

NRO: Cruz “Had Every Chance To Say He Opposed [Legalization] And Didn’t Do So.” National Review Online contributor Jim Geraghty wrote on December 16 that “there is no reason to believe that in 2013, Cruz opposed a path to legalization.” Geraghty argued that Cruz “had every opportunity to state that he didn’t” support the Gang of Eight bill and “had every chance to say he opposed a legal status for illegal immigrants” and failed to do either:

On May 31, 2013, Ted Cruz came to Princeton University for an annual alumni reunion and sat down in front of cameras in a packed auditorium with his old professor Robert P. George.

During the conversation, Cruz addressed his amendments to the “Gang of Eight” immigration bill at length, including one that would have only removed citizenship, not legal status, from illegal immigrants.


Cruz replied,”I believe that if my amendments were adopted, the bill would pass. My effort in introducing them was to find solution that reflected common ground and fixed the problem.”

Asked directly, Cruz had every opportunity to state that he didn’t intend for his amendment to be adopted or for the Gang of Eight bill to pass at all and in fact replied the opposite. At no point did he describe his amendment as a poison bill or procedural maneuver to derail the bill. He had every chance to say he opposed a legal status for illegal immigrants and didn’t do so.

At this point, there is no reason to believe that in 2013, Ted Cruz opposed a path to legalization (not citizenship) for illegal immigrants. [National Review Online, 12/16/16]

Washington Post‘s Jennifer Rubin: Cruz Is “Caught In A Web Of Inconsistencies And Downright Misrepresentations.” In a December 17 opinion piece, The Washington Post‘s Jennifer Rubin criticized Cruz for his reversal, writing “it was a mistake to think he could so easily leap from one position to another without being nailed for hypocrisy or inconsistency, or both.” Rubin slammed Cruz for “painting [his colleagues] as sellouts and [strutting] around with an air of superiority,” only to be “caught in a web of inconsistencies and downright misrepresentations,” and ultimately noted “it is on immigration … that things finally may have come home to roost” for Cruz:

There is something to the idea of political karma. The politician most reviled by his colleagues for painting them as sellouts and who struts around with an air of superiority is now caught in a web of inconsistencies and downright misrepresentations on foreign policy and his favorite issue, “amnesty.”

On foreign policy, it has not escaped notice that by zigzagging between dog whistles for the followers of Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and trying to mimic Donald Trump’s tough talk, he’s created a foreign policy that “is part isolationist, part realist and part pipe dream,” as my colleague Michael Gerson puts it. At least Paul believes what he says. For Cruz, his choice of position neatly and consistently coincides with whatever he figures the talk show crowd wants to hear. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), the wittiest and bluntest of the 2016 contenders, observed, “Ted Cruz’s carpet-bombing comments made no sense, and I’ve been in the Air Force for 33 years. I think that Ted Cruz is a man who is lost. He is trying to be an isolationist when that’s hot; he’s trying to be a Lindsey Graham-type when that’s hot.”

But it is on immigration — where Cruz has vilified any responsible voice favoring reform and stirred up the party’s worst xenophobic tendencies — that things finally may have come home to roost.


Cruz thinks he is the smartest guy in every room. Sometimes he is. However, it was a mistake to think he could so easily leap from one position to another without being nailed for hypocrisy or inconsistency, or both. Rubio has been pounding away at these themes for a few weeks, but now that they have spread across conservative and mainstream media, Cruz will face persistent scrutiny, just as the voters in Iowa are making their final decisions. [The Washington Post12/17/15]


GOP establishment worries about Cruz-Trump showdown

Call it the Republican establishment’s nightmare scenario.

The GOP establishment, confronted by a recalcitrant electorate that refuses to leave Donald Trump, is being forced to take a fresh look at Ted Cruz, a man with grassroots strength in key early primary states and few friends in Washington.

Suddenly, the Republican Party’s best hope could be a man hell-bent on transforming it: a senator who openly spars with fellow GOP colleagues, and has campaigned by painting its leaders as spineless and feeble.

READ: Poll: Clinton beating Trump, Cruz but not Rubio

Headed into Tuesday’s CNN Republican presidential debate, Cruz and Trump have turned Iowa into a two-man race, with the Texan leading in two new polls. Cruz is up 31% to Trump’s 21% among likely GOP caucus-goers, according to the Bloomberg Politics-Des Moines Register poll released Saturday. A Fox News poll Sunday has Cruz leading Trump 28% to 26%.

A small and growing number of Republicans allied with the establishment — the force long thought to quickly consolidate against a surging Cruz bid — are coming to terms with the idea that he may be palatable in an election cycle where Trump has pushed the envelope well beyond what they considered acceptable.”Oh God, yes,” said Ed Rogers, a top Republican lobbyist, when asked if he’d prefer Cruz. “Compared to Trump, he’s OK.”Read: Stage set for final GOP debate of 2015Establishment Republicans had enough of a problem when Trump began his populist-fueled move to the top of national polls, where he has stubbornly remained for five months. But Cruz’s steady rise means that even if Trump were taken out by a well-financed negative campaign, they might have to deal with a stronger Cruz, who has more political polish than the more improvisational Trump.”If you talk to my peers around town, collectively it’s an appreciation the guy is smart as hell,” explained a senior Washington Republican who is backing another candidate. “He can be a more acceptable alternative to Trump, if it comes to that.”The irony hasn’t escaped them. Said the Republican: “It’s an interesting life — and everything’s relative.”Most establishment Republicans have been drawn to the half-dozen candidates who come from that wing of the party, especially Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who has lived in the mid-teens in most polls, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who has dropped down to 3% nationally. But given Cruz’s surging poll numbers and Trump’s remarkable political durability, some wonder if it could be Cruz that emerges as the compromise candidate.”The second he starts to look like a winner in Washington,” Rogers said, “he’s going to have a bunch of new friends.”It’s a dilemma swatted away on Capitol Hill — perhaps optimistically.Asked about choosing Trump or Cruz, 2008 nominee Sen. John McCain would only allow that they are “smart people.” Bush backer Sen. Susan Collins would just offer that they are “obviously not my choice.”And there’s no guarantee either one can beat Hillary Clinton.”He’s not as outrageous as Trump, but I don’t know that he’s any more electable than Trump,” said Charlie Black, a senior adviser to Republican presidential campaigns for over two decades.Brian Walsh, a longtime Senate campaign aide, said it’s an out-of-control Trump — not an in-control Cruz — that explains the Texan’s growing appeal. “Trump has gone so far that it has in some ways masked how problematic Cruz would be as the nominee as well,” he said.

Despite his background as an Ivy League-educated attorney and his time in the Bush administration, Cruz rose to prominence as a tea party darling who became the national face of the 2013 government shutdown. Cruz has spent the two years since working to salvage his relationship with some potential investors in his campaign, but he has reveled in his image as a Washington bad boy, the only senator willing to do on Capitol Hill what he campaigned on back at home.

It’s something that has made him enemies in Washington, where he has not convinced a single Senate colleague to back his campaign. Cruz helped push Republicans to shut down the government in a high-stakes fight over Obamacare, a strategy that failed to get results but didn’t cause a predicted electoral meltdown.

On the trail, he has shown no willingness to moderate his positions, bragging about his conservative purity and his rabble-rousing reputation in the Capitol.

But even compared to Cruz’s burn-it-down rhetoric, Trump’s campaign has been more incendiary and worrisome for party elders determined to beat likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. The mogul had harsh things to say about Hispanics, prisoners of war, women in the media, the disabled, and most recently, Muslims, who he thinks temporarily should not be allowed to enter the United States.

And most concerning for GOP leaders, Trump has frequently floated leaving the Republican Party altogether to mount an independent bid, which would significantly increase Clinton’s chances of winning the White House.

The pair appears to be heading toward a clash that Cruz, at least, long sought to delay. On Friday evening, about 24 hours after audio leaked of Cruz questioning Trump’s judgment at a private fundraiser, the real estate mogul launched his first attacks on Cruz.

Cruz had attempted to head that off by alleging that mainstream Republicans were trying to sow discord.

“The Establishment’s only hope: Trump & me in a cage match,” he tweeted Friday morning. “Sorry to disappoint — @realdonaldtrump is terrific. #DealWithIt”

Cruz has done little to woo the Republicans he used as his bogeyman: He has raised the lion’s share of his money far from the New York-to-Washington corridor, raced to the party’s right flank on every issue of the day, and campaigned loudly on the polarizing social issues that one well-placed Republican said puts some contributors permanently out of reach.

Cruz, on paper, should not be as repellent to the GOP political class as he is. Nurtured by the George W. Bush network in Texas, he served as solicitor general before winning an upset bid in the 2012 Republican U.S. Senate primary.

To Stuart Stevens, the chief strategist for Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign, that resume should theoretically make him attractive to the party’s elite.

“At a core of Cruz’s candidacy is a great phonyism,” Stevens said of the self-stylized insurgent. “You can wear all the plaid shirts and shoot off all the automatic weapons you want, but you’re an insider.”

And some of his positions, such as on national security, do hew closely to the party’s center. As Cruz held court on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” last week, “you could’ve sworn he was working for George Herbert Walker Bush on his foreign policy,” a senior Republican said.

But a leading Republican in frequent touch with high-level donors, said even though those contributors may despise Cruz, they are learning to live with him. “If that’s what we need to do to beat Trump,” the Republican said, “then that’s what you get.”


Let’s not forget Ted Cruz’s diabolical government shutdown


Ted Cruz’s diabolical shutdown strategy: Why the GOP senator wants to watch the world burn

The government is hurtling towards yet another shutdown this fall. The man with the most to gain: Ted Cruz


One of the more persistent misapprehensions among certain pundits is the idea that Republicans will not shut down the government because it’s bad for business. By business, they mean politics, of course, the business of the government. And as with so many beltway tropes, they say this because they harken back to dark ages of the government shutdown of 1995, in which the myth grew up that this was the reason Clinton won re-election the following year.

Whether or not that’s an accurate view of that period’s political dynamic is arguable, but it certainly has nothing to do with the government shutdowns of our current era. Sure the Republican leadership doesn’t like government shutdowns. They’re risky. But as far as Republican voters are concerned, this is a winning tactic. After all, they won big in 2014 after ostentatiously shutting down the government and creating havoc with the budget over the course of several years.

The conventional wisdom says that these GOP shutdowns in off-years work a lot better than they would in a presidential year due to the Republican turn out advantage in mid-terms. And it’s fairly certain that the disastrous Obamacare website rollout stepped on the story of Republican overreach in 2013. Nonetheless the right wing is convinced that this is a big winner for them — and frankly, even if it isn’t, they don’t care. To people who believe in the marrow of their bones that government is a bad actor designed to make their lives miserable, shutting it down, even temporarily, is a good thing in and of itself. And who knows? It might just make the other side break one of these days.

So, here we are in the fall, once again, facing a government shutdown. The committees have not done their jobs, there is no budget, and the expiration of the current budget appropriations is almost upon us. In normal times the congress would simply pass a continuing resolution and get back to work to run the government. Instead, we are facing another “showdown”.

The major issue this round is the emotional issue of Planned Parenthood funding over of the doctored tapes that Carly Fiorina so colorfully lied about in the GOP debates last week. With social conservatives smarting from their defeat on gay marriage, it seems they are redoubling their efforts to stop abortion and contraception, and the far right members of the GOP coalition are happy to oblige for all the reasons I just outlined.

Longtime congressional observer Stan Collender put the odds at 75 percent that it was going to happen, explaining in Politico that the ongoing dysfunction is most likely an insurmountable challenge for leaders John Boehner and Mitch McConnell to manage successfully. He agrees that the Planned Parenthood issue provides the most drama and may serve as the main excuse for the deadlock. The Senate Democrats blocked a so-called “fetal pain” bill on Tuesday morning which was a largely symbolic appeasement offering to the hardcore anti-choice Republicans so they could hit the trail claiming they are heroic rescuers of fetuses everywhere. But that’s not the end of it. McConnell announced plans to bring up a stand-alone vote to defund Planned Parenthood, lugubriously proclaiming “I know Democrats have relied on Planned Parenthood as a political ally, but they must be moved by the horrifying images we’ve seen. Can they not resolve to protect women’s health instead of powerful political friends?”

(MSNBC’s Luke Russert attributed this comment to McConnell’s desire to show off for the Pope and signal his seriousness about the issue to Ted Cruz, and maybe it’s just that absurd.)

Meanwhile, a rump group of House Republicans are demanding that any spending bill defund the women’s health group, which means Boehner must have Democratic votes to pass a funding bill and Democrats are holding very firm. That issue will play itself out over the next weeks, with Boehner’s job being once more on the line.

If this all sounds ridiculous, you aren’t alone. Even GOP senators are wondering about the end game:


Anti-choice activists and other grassroots “strategists” are convinced that they can make people believe it would be President Obama who is “shutting down the government,” which is fatuous in the extreme. People will know who is doing the shutting down. After all, Republicans are famous for it. So this Planned Parenthood confrontation could be a big problem. But it isn’t the only one. Collander points out there are a number of other, less exciting issues that are feeding into this possible showdown:

[T]he dispute between the parties over military and domestic funding has so far been impossible to negotiate. Democrats want both military and domestic spending increased while Republicans have proposed an increase for the military but a reduction in domestic programs.

To demonstrate that they would not agree to a budget deal without increases for both, earlier this year, Democrats prevented the defense appropriation from being debated on the Senate floor until they could be certain that the military increases that Republicans wanted would be matched by similar increases for domestic agencies. When the GOP refused, this year’s whole appropriations process came to an immediate halt. So far, nothing has changed.

This goes back to the Sequestration Act of 2013 which was one of the worst failed gambits in legislative history. Here we are, still fighting over draconian cuts that were allegedly designed to bring both sides to the bargaining table and ended up driving everyone further apart. The real people it has ended up hurting seem almost incidental to the problem. We can only hope that at some point, someone doesn’t decide that the military increases which both sides agree on are enough to form an agreement to keep the government from shutting down. When that happens, the sequestration game will be over and the Republicans will take a well-deserved victory lap.

And then there is the Iran nuclear disarmament deal which is apparently driving the GOP even crazier than they already had been. There is talk of using the continuing resolution to continue to flail uselessly on the issue by preventing the State department from spending any money on implementation — yet another show for the folks back home that will go nowhere.

So social conservatives, fiscal scolds and military hawks all have reasons to pursue their own agendas with a potential government shutdown, but there is one person whose agenda is particularly well served by all three: Senator Ted Cruz. He’s the  Republican official calling for a government shutdown most vociferously, using pretty much any issue he can lay his hands on. Like all far-right Republicans, he’s unalterably opposed to any hike in domestic spending for any reason, so if the Democrats insist on doing that as the price of a continuing resolution, he’d be happy to see the government shut down. But he’s at the head of the team that’s agitating for a showdown over Planned Parenthood and has come up with a novel path for shutting down over Iran. The Hill reported yesterday:

“I believe what Congress should do is a pass a continuing resolution that funds the government, but that provides two conditions,” he told reporters on Tuesday. “Number one, it does not give taxpayer funds to a private organization — Planned Parenthood — that is under multiple criminal investigations. Number two, it uses the power of the purse to force this administration to hand over the Iranian side deals.”

The administration says they don’t have the side deals to hand over, but even if they did, it’s highly unlikely that Ted Cruz would be a proper person with whom to entrust them, seeing as he thinks the deal has been struck  by the world’s leading financier of radical Islamic terrorism, President Obama.

My colleague Simon Maloy speculated yesterday that this was all part of Cruz’s presidential campaign strategy, in which he would ostentatiously push for the Republican congressional majority to confront the president over these issues of importance to the GOP base he’s trying to attract to his candidacy. And in a clever bit of political jiujitsu, he will blame the Republicans in Washington when it fails, setting himself up as the true believer willing to fight the power.

It appears Maloy is right. According to The Hill:

The spending bill isn’t the first time Cruz has tussled with the leadership of his own party. The Texas Republican also suggested during a blistering floor speech earlier this year that McConnell lied about a deal on reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank.

The rhetorical battles play into the anti-Washington theme at the core of Cruz’s presidential campaign. He doubled down on that Tuesday, saying that “the position of Republican leadership boils down to this: They will support 100 percent of the priorities of Democrats.”

“Today, the leader in the Senate is Harry Reid because Republican leadership has said nothing will pass without Harry Reid’s support,” he added. “Today, the leader in the House is Nancy Pelosi.”

Setting up your own party to fail so you can blame them for it is a bold move, no doubt about. But in a campaign in which all the frontrunners are outsiders running against Washington, this is perhaps the only way for a sitting Senator to position himself as one of them. And it’s certainly possible that the Republican primary electorate will view him as a hero for leading the charge against the loathed DC Republican elite.  But they could just as easily see him as part of the problem. After all, that would be the truth.

Nobody knows if the government will shut down this fall. There are a lot of moving parts and they are changing every day. But whatever happens, Ted Cruz will be in the middle of it trying to prove to the GOP primary electorate that he is the right wing champion of their dreams. As long as Donald Trump doesn’t say something crazy that week they might even notice.



BAD-NEWSTed Cruz is on a roll. He’s now leading in Iowa according to several polls, and is gaining momentum primary states. Pundits are predicting he’ll soon displace Donald Trump. But what does Cruz stand for? Here are ten Cruz missiles:

1. He supports a Constitutional amendment mandating Congress pass a balanced budget. It’s a terrible idea that would eliminate fiscal policy as a tool to balance the economy during recessions.

2. He wants to cut corporate tax rates to 15 percent. Another bad idea. Corporations don’t need a tax cut, and the cuts would have to be made up by individual taxpayers.

3. Cruz wants to repeal the Common Core education standards from the federal government. Why? They’re already voluntary and provide good benchmarks.

4. On immigration, he’d block any current effort that lets undocumented immigrants legally remain in the U.S. He’d triple the number of border patrol agents and quadruple their equipment. Another stupid idea that would break up families and fail to deal with the underlying issue of how to regularize the immigration status of millions who have been in the United States for many years.

5. Repeal Obamacare. As he showed in his 2013 23-hour speech on the Senate floor, he’s adamantly opposed to the new health care law and wants it repealed in entirety.


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6. Leave it up to states to decide whether to allow gay marriage. He says only the four states specifically named in the Supreme Court decision on gay marriage Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee) must abide by the ruling, and other states should ignore it. That’s nuts. The Supreme Court decision was intended to have national scope.

7. He thinks there should be strict limits on abortion. Cruz has staunchly supported bans on any taxpayer funding of abortion and bans of so-called partial birth abortion. This is a big reason why evangelicals love him.

8. Elect the Supreme Court. He wants to abolish lifetime appointment to the court and subject justices to periodic election instead. This would require a Constitutional amendment, of course, and it’s nuts. The Court has to be independent of politics. It’s already too politicized.

9. Cruz wants to move toward a flat tax. This would increase the tax rates of the middle and lower-middle class and reduce them for the rich. He also wants to abolish the IRS.

10. On the Islamic State, Cruz doesn’t want to send in U.S. ground troops — yet. But he says that if Kurdish fighters on the ground can’t do it, we should send troops.

Trump is a bigot and a buffoon. Cruz is a right-wing zealot and unprincipled opportunist. That these two would emerge as the leading Republican contenders for president of the United States as we head into a presidential election year is terrifying.

What do you think?