An enthusiastic Ted Cruz is not acting like he had a bad week, one in which he placed third in Nevada’s primary and fired his chief spokesman.
Cruz got a boost Wednesday with the endorsement of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. “Unlike far too many in Washington, the Ted Cruz we’ve seen in the Senate is the same Ted Cruz we elected. And he’s the same Ted Cruz I served with when I was attorney general and Ted was solicitor general,” said Abbott.
Texas has 155 delegates, he’s going to win Texas.
Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on Cruz’s outlook in the Lone Star State.
Top aides are saying Cruz has a re-honed strategy to target billionaire Donald Trump, who has succeeded, along with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, in hurting the Texan’s image by calling him a “liar” and accusing him of dirty tricks.
Cruz has been riled by the repetition of being called a liar after a series of campaign tactics – including suggesting that former neurosurgeon Ben Carson was dropping out as the Iowa caucuses began. Monday he fired spokesman Rick Tyler over posting an inaccurate video of Rubio.
Cruz campaign co-chairman Bob Vander Plaats, president of Family Leader, an advocacy group, believes Cruz is “doing well,” citing Cruz’s win in Iowa. He played down his third-place finishes in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada, saying that in the last two Cruz “basically tied for second.”
The message going into the March 1 Super Tuesday votes, he said, has to be that Cruz can beat Trump and then beat potential Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in the general election. “He’s the best positioned and the best to draw the most contrast with Trump,” said Vander Plaats.
“My recommendation is that Cruz keep his focus on his vision and the issues and the contrast with Trump, and leave Rubio alone,” he said.
That approach will be tested Thursday during the GOP debate in Houston hosted by CNN and Telemundo.
I think Ted Cruz is fading in this campaign. Not only is Trump steadier and stronger than most thought he would be, Cruz is not a winsome personality.
Cal Jillson, political science professor at Southern Methodist University
Still, some say time is running out for Cruz.
“I think Ted Cruz is fading in this campaign. Not only is Trump steadier and stronger than most thought he would be, Cruz is not a winsome personality,” said Cal Jillson, political science professor at Southern Methodist University. “The liar, liar, liar challenge has stuck because Cruz exudes determination that many interpret as a desire to win at any cost.”
Drake University political science professor Dennis Goldford said, “Cruz believes that he can win the nomination and general election by running not from the center-right, but exclusively from the right, with a message that he’s in Washington but not of Washington, willing to oppose politics as usual from both parties. Trump’s candidacy cuts across Cruz’s core constituencies.”
Goldford added, “Cruz also is not a likable figure – widely despised in Washington as a self-promoter by members of his own party.”
But Cruz has Texas, where he sealed an unlikely victory in 2012 to the Senate as a first-time political candidate against the state’s lieutenant governor.
Konni Burton, a Texas state senator who is on Cruz’s campaign leadership team, said it was disappointing to lose Nevada and South Carolina, but that’s all in the past. “Nobody is less enthusiastic for Ted here,” she said in an interview. “There’s definitely momentum for Ted in Texas. All of us are focusing on Texas.”
“What the Cruz campaign needs now is an image- and morale-boosting signature victory in Texas, one that signals to a national audience that the Cruz presidential bid is alive and well, “ said Mark Jones, political science professor at Rice University.
With 155 convention delegates that are allocated proportionally, Texas alone would be big for Cruz if he can cross the 50 percent threshold statewide.
Cruz needs to win more than Texas on Super Tuesday.
Larry Sabato, director, Center for Politics, University of Virginia
In addition, Vander Plaats thinks that Cruz still has appeal to evangelicals, though many have been voting for Trump. “People have been voting on emotion, not on their faith, intellect and logic,” he said, which Cruz can draw on.
In Tuesday’s so-called SEC primary, Cruz is poised to do well in Oklahoma, Arkansas and Tennessee, Vander Plaats said. “I believe there are several states he can win.”