If you watched the latest Republican debate, the clear winner was Ted Cruz. From his commanding presence to his knowledge of the issues to his intellectual criticism of Trump he outshone the other three. As a matter of fact, he beat up Trump to a pulp. Mr. skyscraper was getting beet red in the face after Cruz finished with him.
Here’s my takeaway from last night. We’ll of course fill in blanks and get into this in great detail, but I think Ted Cruz won that debate hands down. I don’t think it’s even close. I think Ted Cruz Ted Cruz was in a different league last night. Ted Cruz was in a different debate than what everybody else was doing, including Kasich. I think Ted Cruz was running rings around everybody in terms of awareness of the issues, knowledge of the issues, mastering whatever it was that was discussed.
When Ted Cruz got the question about Detroit — Flint, Michigan — he’s the only guy that got the answer right. Now, the things other people said about it were true, but Ted Cruz is the only guy that got anywhere close to explaining what’s wrong with Detroit. Liberalism! Left-wing policies!
For 50 years, everything that’s going wrong wherever you go in the country, the people that have been running it are left-wing Democrat Party. Wherever they’ve been in charge unchecked, everything’s a mess just like it is in Detroit. I think Cruz’s skills as a debater were on full display last night for anybody to see…
When they got to Cruz, question comes from Chris Wallace. “For half a century Detroit was the symbol of America’s industrial might, 300,000 manufacturing jobs in this city. At last count there are now fewer than 30,000 manufacturing jobs here. The unemployment rate in this city’s 11%, twice the national average. Senator Cruz, I know that you have general plans for tax reform, but what specifically would you do to bring manufacturing jobs back to America and train residents of cities like Detroit to do those jobs?”
CRUZ: Detroit is a great city with a magnificent legacy that has been utterly decimated by 60 years of failed left-wing policy.
CRUZ: In the 1960s, Detroit was the Silicon Valley of America, had a population of two million people, had the highest per capita income in the country. And then for 50 years, left-wing Democrats have pursued destructive tax policies, weak crime policies, and have driven the citizens out.
CRUZ: Let me say to folks in the media, that is a story that the media ought to be telling (Ding! Ding!) over and over again: The destruction of left-wing policies and the millions who have hurt because of it.
But here’s what happened after this. When that answer was finished, Chris Wallace said, essentially, “That’s all well and good but you didn’t answer my question. What are you gonna do to fix it? What are you gonna do? What kind of policies do you have that are gonna teach people how to do the work again?” And Cruz had the answer.
He rattled it off. He talked about how getting rid of all kinds of regulations — and he specified them — and all kinds of tax cuts — and he specified them — would create massive new incentives for companies to relocate to Detroit because it would be economically advancing to do so. He talked about how those companies would have a leg up in earning a profit because the regulations that are punitive would have been swept away. He had the specific answer to every allegation, every question that he was asked, even with the follow-ups.
“What would you do?” he had the explicit answer to every policy that he thought would work, to revive and rejuvenate Detroit or whatever else the question was about. And he was the only one who did. When it came to policy last night, he was the only one that was even close. And that’s why I say he was in a different league last night, and his IQ was 85 above the average on that stage last night in terms of this kind of answer.
I managed to sneak into a Ted Cruz rally Wednesday night in suburban Kansas City. Upon leaving, I no longer counted myself among the uncommitted. I and thousands of others in this overflow crowd had to be thinking the same thought, “Why would a conservative vote for anyone else?”
That is not to take anything away from the other candidates. This is easily the best Republican crop in anyone’s memory. Even the remaining go-along, get-along candidate, John Kasich, would make for a better president than the five go-along, get-alongs the Republicans have nominated since 1988.
If Cruz is not nominated, I will vote for the Republican who is.
Those luminaries who insist they will not vote for Donald Trump if he is the nominee, confuse idealism with narcissism. The nation has barely survived eight years of Barack Obama. It will be unrecognizable after four years of Hillary Clinton, let alone eight. To worry about the Republican “brand” while the country speeds down the diamond lane towards serfdom flirts with treason.
Cruz represents conservative values more consistently, intelligently and forcefully than any candidate in the field. I recall seeing George Bush speak during the 2000 campaign. He used a briefing notebook to guide him through his speech. Lacking a fully formed understanding of conservative principles, he had to remind himself how he felt about a particular issue, and Bush was a more serious conservative than Bob Dole, John McCain, Mitt Romney, or his own father.
Barack Obama, of course, has no gift for impromptu speech.
At a campaign event in Virginia in June 2008, Obama was making an impassioned speech about the wasteful use of ER services in the treatment of childhood asthma when, suddenly, he seemed to lose his place on the teleprompter.
As he signaled his distress, he stuttered badly, talked about the use of a “breathalyzer,” corrected himself to say “inhalator,” laughed, stuttered some more, and blamed his performance on not having much sleep in the last 48 hours. The right word, by the way, is “inhaler.”
It is unimaginable that Cruz would falter so. At the rally he spoke for forty-five minutes without notes, let alone a teleprompter. His speech was a mix of time tested tropes and new riffs pulled from the headlines. He did not stutter, stammer, or search for a word. There was an ideological coherence to his presentation that I have not seen from a presidential candidate since Ronald Reagan.
Nor was this just all talk. In his three-plus years in the Senate, Cruz has deviated from his stated principles far less than any of his colleagues and has the stab wounds in his back to prove it. One can compromise, Cruz noted, on details like, say, the top marginal rate on taxes. What one cannot compromise on are core beliefs.
Of this year’s candidates, no one has a more solid core than Cruz. One cannot imagine him proposing a David Souter for the Supreme Court or expanding Medicaid or creating a new federal agency. For obvious reasons, one cannot have quite the same confidence in Marco Rubio, an otherwise exceptional candidate.
If Cruz has a weakness as a candidate it is that he can sometimes seem preachy and unpersonable. Watching him last night I got a sense of why that might be. Given his roots in the evangelical tradition, he is fundamentally a big tent speaker. That style does not work well on a small screen.
Charm is a valuable commodity in televised politics, and no candidate has more of it than Rubio. All factors being equal, charm carries the day, but in deciding between Cruz and Rubio, all factors are not equal. Besides, the Republican nominee will likely be running against a candidate with no charm at all.
After I posted a picture from the Cruz rally on Facebook, a liberal friend from New York responded, “Cruz? Really Jack? He would suffer a Goldwater style defeat.” No, the most principled Republican in thirty years would be running against the least principled Democrat in the history of the Republic.
This is a match-up I would enjoy. These are debates for which I would have friends over and make popcorn. This campaign season, finally, would be fun.