Ted Cruz

A Tour of the GOP 2016 Posse — A Noah’s Ark of Right-Wing Specimens

The 2016 Republican presidential posse is now in its right-wing flavor-of-the-month phase.

According to recent polls [3], the most popular not-quite-new face on the presidential trail is Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. Some of that is attributable to Cruz announcing he’s running before others—although that will soon change with Tuesday’s announcement by Sen. Rand Paul, R-KY, and others to follow. But Cruz the political bomb-thrower is not even a 21st-century Pat Buchanan, who peaked withwinning [4] the New Hampshire primary in 1996, but was never a serious contender for the White House. Cruz may take himself very seriously, but serious people don’t and won’t—hence the Buchanan comparison.

Why? Buchanan had impeccable insider political credentials, as a speechwriter for presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan before he became pitchfork Pat who freaked out political Washington by nipping at Kansas Sen. Bob Dole’s heels in Iowa and winning New Hampshire. Buchanan also was likeable in an impish way, when interviewed. Cruz checks none of those boxes.

Cruz’s Senate career is one big screw-you to his party, from forcing a 2013 federal shutdown to not endorsing fellow Texan Republican Sen. John Cornyn, in his primary last year. Cruz justcampaigned [5] in Iowa with freshman Rep. Rod Blum, another backstabber who last fall won with John Boehner’s help but didn’t vote for him for speaker. And he’s a surly know-it-all.

There’s another factor that applies to the GOP pugilists who would be president, which also includes Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Dr. Ben Carson. Nobody will become the next nominee without support from the GOP establishment.

Top elected officials and Republican National Committee members hold 428 unpledged votes [6] in their national convention, where 1,235 are needed for the nomination. That’s one bar to GOP extremists. The RNC also shortened its 2016 nominating season to curtail self-inflicted wounds among candidates. Recall how the U.S. Chamber of Commerce led the charge to defeat GOP rebels during the final stretches of 2014’s elections, another sign party leaders want to win, not just fight.

Pugilists like Cruz may be grabbing the limelight now, but when the rubber hits the real road to the White House you can be sure that the Republican Party’s grownups will flip the switch, cutting off their tirades, just as Walmart and the Chamber last week told [7] Arkansas Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson to veto an anti-LGBT religious liberty bill. And he did.

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