It was August 2009. Andrew Breitbart had not yet launched Big Government. Obamacare was just beginning to stir opposition at town hall meetings across the nation. And a guy named Ted Cruz, hoping to become the Attorney General of Texas, spoke to a small gathering of conservative bloggers at the RedState gathering in Atlanta, Georgia. The intrepid Moe Lane shot an interview in the basement of the hotel with a Flip camera, in which Cruz is shown defending the same conservative principles that he has stood for in his Senate campaign.
It would be more than two years before Cruz made the cover of the more established National Review, and many months before the mainstream media took notice (indeed, this morning’s headline in the Washington Post is “Who Is Ted Cruz?“). It was his early outreach to conservative new media that created a network of people who were aware of his record, aware of his potential, and able to move the conservative grassroots. Today, Cruz is the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Texas–which means that he can look beyond the November vote, and begin campaigning and fundraising for other Republican candidates around the country.
As Andrew Breitbart often said, Republicans fail when their media strategy centers around the mainstream. They spend too much time trying to prove what they are not, rather than expounding on what they are. Ted Cruz understood that earlier than most–which is why, to conservatives, his “surprise” win is no surprise at all.