If, as was reported last week, he might run for the White House in 2016, is he a Ronald Reagan whose adamant conservative principles will confound the naysayers, attract voters and lead his party to national victory? Or is he a Barry Goldwater, whose conservatism was equally apparent and who inspired future generations, but nevertheless led his party to a crushing defeat in 1964?
Conservative Republicans, including former Sen. Jim DeMint (S.C.), head of the Heritage Foundation, applaud Cruz’s willingness to challenge the status quo in the Senate Republican caucus.
The Texan has become a hero of movement conservatives by taking on members of his own party and scolding them for apathy and defeatism.
It is what many had hoped to see from Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who like Cruz defeated a heavily-favored opponent backed by the establishment in a Republican primary. But Rubio has taken a more cautious approach and irked conservatives recently by teaming up with Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) to craft immigration legislation.
Cruz’s aggression has also rankled colleagues in a chamber where seniority rules.
He created an uproar by calling his colleagues “squishes” for what he considered weak opposition to gun-control legislation. On Friday, he publicly challenged Vice President Biden to a debate on guns and crime.
Several colleagues initially did not approve of Cruz’s push for an amendment to defund the 2010 Affordable Care Act. When he later told the Conservative Political Action Conference that GOP senators had to be prodded to fight ObamaCare, the comment inflamed tensions still more.
Cruz’s Senate colleagues fear that he makes them look ready to go along with business as usual in Washington, which makes them more likely to be challenged and defeated in primaries.
Senate Republican Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas), who could face a primary in 2014, has stuck to Cruz like glue, voting in lockstep with his junior colleague. They were two of only three Republicans to vote against former Sen. John Kerry’s (D-Mass.) nomination to become secretary of State this year.
Cruz’s rivals in the party whisper that he is too confrontational, extreme and almost boorish.
“The senator from Texas was on the losing side…now he wants us to adopt the losing side’s view or we cannot go to conference,” Reid said.
“My friend from Texas is like a schoolyard bully,” Reid added.
“He pushes everybody around and is losing and instead of playing the game according to the rules, he not only takes the ball home with him, but he changes the rules that way no one wins except the bully who tries to indicate to people that he has won.”
Cruz, a Tea Party darling whose rhetoric has sometimes raised eyebrows among Republicans, shot back that “I wasn’t aware we are in the schoolyard.”
It’s obvious he’s doing something right…