Can Ted Cruz appeal to the GOP's moderate base?

Campaign 2016
by Mary Reichard & Kent Covington
Posted 3/25/15, 02:39 pm

The staff of The World and Everything in It has profiled 22 possible 2016 presidential candidates in its “White House Wednesday” series. Now they take a look at who’s ahead and who’s making moves as the big campaign gets closer.

Entering stage right. During a 30-minute speech Monday declaring his candidacy for president, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, spoke freely about his beliefs. Cruz is running not only as a staunch conservative, but also as an outspoken Christian conservative. His presence in the race poses a challenge to other evangelicals in the running, such as Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. “What is the promise of America? [It is] the revolutionary idea that this country was founded upon, which is that our rights, they don’t come from man. They come from God almighty,” Cruz said. Tea party voters are Cruz’s sweet spot, and he’ll compete fiercely for them with other conservatives, such as Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. But any Republican candidate will have a hard time winning the nomination without appealing to the more moderate establishment wing of the party. Cruz alienated many establishment Republicans last year by being a leader in the budget showdown that resulted in the partial government shutdown, for which Republicans got almost all the blame.

Rand’s response. Some students who packed the arena at Liberty University for Cruz’s announcement wore T-shirts that read “I stand with Rand,” a reference to Cruz’s GOP rival Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. Paul noted their support in an interview with Fox News. “I kind of remember those days because I went to Baylor University, and we were all required to go to convocation. So all these kids are required, and some of those who were required wanted to make sure that just by having to be there they weren’t expressing their support. But we were glad to see them there and organized and excited about the possibility of me running,” Paul said. He added that he agreed with much of Cruz’s speech, but differed on his strategy for growing the Republican party. “I’m a big believer that you should stand on principle and be true to your principles, but I also think that you should take those principles and try to bring in new people with them,” Paul said. “So I’ve spent the past couple of years trying to go places Republicans haven’t gone, and maybe not just throwing out red meat, but actually throwing out something intellectually enticing to people who haven’t been listening to our message before.”

Clinton challengers. Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley stands as the only near-certain challenger to Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. Speaking to Iowa Democrats last week, O’Malley threw a jab at Clinton, denouncing a political strategy perfected by Clintons in the 1990’s. “Triangulation is not a strategy that will move America forward. History celebrates profiles in courage, not profiles in convenience,” O’Malley said. And amid mounting troubles for Hillary Clinton surrounding her secretive private email practices as secretary of state, rumors are starting to swirl in Washington about a couple of familiar faces joining the presidential fray. Some political insiders have begun to speculate that Secretary of State John Kerry or former Vice President Al Gore might weigh another White House run.

Presidential power rankings. The presidential power rankings are a weekly snapshot of where the race for GOP presidential nominee stands right now. Polling is the main factor in the changes in the rankings from one week to the next.

  1. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush
  2. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker
  3. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee
  4. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio
  5. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul
  6. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie
  7. Dr. Ben Carson
  8. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz
  9. Ohio Gov. John Kasich
  10. Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry

Listen to “White House Wednesday” on The World and Everything in It.

Mary Reichard

Mary is WORLD Radio’s dialogue editor and cohost of The World and Everything in It.

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