As the GOP field has dwindled down these past couple of months, Texas Senator and rumored Zodiac killer Ted Cruz has positioned himself as the anti-Trump alternative. Of course, just a few months ago, Cruz was cozying up to the former reality TV star and proclaiming himself just as anti-establishment and Mexican hating as the Trumpster.
However, things change fast in an election cycle, and with fewer and fewer palatable options available to moderate and reasonable Republican voters, Cruz has become the ‘hold your nose and vote’ candidate. However, despite the fact that he appears to be the only possible GOP candidate who can defeat Trump during the primary, his colleagues still want nothing to do with him.
Apparently, most of them still hold a grudge against the Tea Party firebrand for all of the shit he’s stirred in his short time in the Senate. First, there’s the whole 2013 government shutdown mess that cost the nation billions of dollars and was nothing more than an attention-grabbing gambit by Cruz to rile up the far-right. Then you have the fact that Cruz has done nothing but talk smack about Washington and the ‘establishment,’ creating enemies out of pretty much everyone on Capitol Hill, regardless of party.
But, just to make matters even worse, you have the whole incident that occurred last year when he straight up called Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell a liar. He didn’t hint at it, he didn’t hem and haw — nope, just labeled him as dishonest and untrustworthy.
During a Senate floor debate on an Export-Import Bank bill, Cruz complained that McConnell had told him something else in private and later backtracked.
“Well, we now know that when the majority leader looks us in the eyes and makes an explicit commitment, that he is willing to say things that he knows are false.”
Cruz appeared at an MSNBC town hall on Thursday and was asked about that statement. Rather than saying he was a little harsh or he might have gone too far, he instead doubled down:
“Every word I said there is true and accurate. No one disputed a word I said.”
OK then. While this might be the truth — though this is Ted Cruz we are talking about — it surely isn’t going to help him round up support from his colleagues ahead of an expected GOP contested convention this summer. As Lauren Fox of Talking Points Memo reported on Thursday, his attempt to curry favor with the people he’s demonized and alienated isn’t going too well.
Cruz is facing varied and dynamic obstacles in his quest to build support on the Hill. Some senators are stubbornly nursing grudges against the freshman senator’s 2013 government shutdown gambit or any other number of slights and affronts he committed as a freshman senator that made him deeply unpopular. Other senators endorsed candidates who already dropped out of the race and are unwilling to repeat that mistake with Donald Trump the clear frontrunner and Cruz likely needing a contested convention to win the nomination.
Ultimately, Cruz is little more than a polarizing colleague asking individual senators to go out on a limb for him on his long-shot bid to deny Trump the nomination. It’s a request that makes for sometimes awkward private conversations.
Aside from approaching endorsement-wary senators, Cruz’s other struggle is perception. He is attempting to coalesce support in Washington while simultaneously trying to maintain his reputation as an outsider. Cruz’s screeds against the “Washington cartel” were supposed to help him sail to the nomination in a fervently anti-establishment election cycle, but it turns out now he needed the very senators he has been campaigning against.
There also is no indication that Cruz has made attempts to apologize to the Republican Senate’s leader, Mitch McConnell, a man with major sway in the GOP whom Cruz once called a “liar.” A spokesman for McConnell’s office told TPM he was not aware of any conversations between the senators recently. The Cruz campaign did not respond to TPM’s request for comment.
Yeah, my guess is his defending his calling McConnell a liar isn’t going to lead to a cordial meeting anytime soon where the Majority Leader emerges and raises Cruz’s hand in a victory stance. And this is also why many political insiders still think the RNC is going to try to pull a fast one at the convention and slip in a ‘white knight’ candidate.