While businessman Donald Trump and former surgeon Ben Carson have been generating most of the headlines, Sen. Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign has been quietly building out what most concede is the kind of infrastructure one will need to win the GOP nomination.
In essence, Cruz hopes to become the grassroots Republican conservative candidate of choice, as opposed to purely an outsider like Trump or Carson, and consolidate that support into winning numbers.
“There’s no other candidate in the field who has a national team that is comparable to the team of conservatives that has coalesced around this campaign,” Cruz told Politico. And there’s plenty of evidence to back up his claim, along with the sort of cash on hand required for a long drawn out race.
Certainly, Cruz is riding high. Cash reports this month showed the contender sitting on the most money of any Republican candidate in the field. Two of his most direct rivals — for funds (fellow Texan Rick Perry) and for votes (Scott Walker) — have already dropped out. Jeb Bush is slashing payroll. And a Des Moines Register poll out Friday showed Cruz in third place in Iowa, behind Donald Trump and Ben Carson, neither of whom has ever won an election to anything.
The Bush campaign’s recent decision to target Cruz may or may not help Jeb, but it was no accident, and most concede Cruz is a serious contender simply waiting for the right circumstances to allow him to break through.
On this point, Cruz and the Republican establishment that hates him seem to agree. Cruz has yet to pop in the national and early-state polls but his foes and allies alike say he is poised to break through.
“He’s not to be underestimated,” said Fergus Cullen, a former chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party. Cullen is no fan of Cruz but he predicted the senator is “likely to be one of the final four” in the primary. “I think he stands a pretty good chance of cornering the right-wing vote, which is remarkable given how large the field is.”
Scott Reed, the senior political strategist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a symbol of the GOP establishment that Cruz rails against on the trail, said the Texan “is shaping up to be a real finalist in Cleveland,” where the Republican nominee will be crowned next summer. “Cruz has a strong team, approaches every week with goals and a strategy,” Reed said. “If you look away from Cruz’s TV coverage and just listen to the audio, he has the strongest message to GOP activists and primary voters.”
Even former President George W. Bush singled out Cruz as one of his brother’s top rivals, particularly in Southern states that vote on March 1, saying at a recent private fundraiser, “I just don’t like the guy.”
The key date to keep an eye on is March 1st. That very well may be the day we start reading and hearing much more about Cruz as the potential Republican nominee. For now, he seems content to cruise under the radar, quietly doing what it takes to stay in the race till the end … and win.
Clearly, those who know GOP presidential politics, including from the establishment side, are taking Cruz very seriously, while admitting he’s now positioned very well. More here via Politico.
Cruz’s Houston headquarters is brimming with confidence, and no date looms larger on its collective calendar than March 1. He was the first to recruit chairmen in all 171 counties in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada but his entire strategy seems centered on the SEC primary, when a set of conservative and evangelical states across the South will dominate the voting, including Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma and his home state of Texas.
… By then, if not before, Cruz hopes to have consolidated the conservative side of the 2016 ledger. Within three weeks, by March 22, almost two-thirds of the Republican delegates will have been allocated.