Leslie Loftis: Only Ted Cruz can beat Hillary

It’s gut check time for the GOP establishment. Will they really sacrifice principled leadership for the country to save their own insider income streams?

The rally to someone besides the Trump or Cruz window just closed. Christie’s attacks on Rubio in the latest debate and Bush’s sustained campaign against him in recent weeks worked. Rubio crashed to fifth with no complimentary bump for Christie or Bush. All three are done, even if only Christie recognizes it. Kasich had a great night, but he has no money and no ground game beyond last night. He can’t capitalise on last night’s win. Even if everyone else but Trump and Cruz got out and rallied all their money and staff to Kasich, he doesn’t have enough time or political charisma to pull off that kind of comeback. As we say in American football, that is a Hail Mary play, a long pass thrown to the goal hoping that the receiver can get there to catch it.

Only Cruz can knock out Trump at this point. He’s got the numbers, the money, the strategy, and a record of doing it. But he’s having to fight on too many fronts.

South Carolina votes in a month. Trump is up in South Carolina mostly due to the immigration issue and everyone but Team Cruz’s habit of insulting Trump’s base more than arguing with Trump’s fickle and vague principles. But while Cruz is addressing Trump on the merits he is also having to fight the media, the establishment, and the rest of the field. Trump only has to fend off Cruz. Cruz has enough political chess savvy enough to pull that off, but it will not be easy. Only if the rest of the field stopped sucking money and media away from Cruz, he could concentrate on persuading voters on the principles and quickly secure the nomination.

But hubris, vengeance, and power preservation are in the way. The GOP doesn’t seem to want principled leadership. It wants power.

The socially acceptable reason for not wanting Cruz as the nominee—elites don’t want to admit to themselves or to others that their real objection is preserving their own political clout—is his chances of winning the general election in November. They are low. But that’s irrelevant now because Trump’s chance of winning is even lower.

Current polling shows Trump or Cruz losing to Clinton. Despite Tuesday night, she will be the Democratic nominee. She will just be a battered and much more vulnerable one than anyone anticipated even a few months ago. There is no one her camp wants more than Trump. Truly, he is her easiest win, and she will need an easy opponent after the weaknesses exposed in her path to the nomination.

Trump’s general election weakness doesn’t change with wildcards Sanders or Biden, either. Trump is the Republicans' worst general election option. Rubio, the one with the best shot by the current poll numbers, is unsalvageable.

Cruz has proven the only long-term strategic campaigner in the field and has a record of turning early poll numbers. He could pull the general off.

So the question for the GOP elites today: what’s it gonna be, a principled conservative who admittedly will shrink the belts of the lobbyists et al, or screw the base and the country to preserve their power?

 

(Image: Gage Skidmore, Flickr)

Leslie Loftis

  • Welshboy

    Seriously, as everyday passes, Cruz is revealing himself to be more of a turncoat. First you say that after Iowa, it would be a Cruz vs Rubio stand off for the candidacy and now you are saying that only Cruz could win against Hillary Clinton because Rubio did not do so well in New Hampshire.

    I’m starting to wonder whether these articles are points of opinion (and not facts) that expresses the fact of you simply not liking Donald Trump.

    • Maximum Overdrive

      In a nutshell…
      It’s just another “anyone but Trump” rant.

      Now I’ve always regarded Trump as a loudmouth and a boor, but let’s face it. That exactly what we all need right now. Someone who is not afraid to state their opinion, however unfashionable.
      Whatever his faults, Trump always calls a spade a spade.

      • Kingbingo

        He is also a long time friend of Hillary Clinton and hasn’t got a clue what his policies are apart from big government spending.

        Also around 60% of republicans won’t vote for him.

        I like that fact he annoys the PC brigade, but that is hardly enough.

        • St Martyr

          So what? He can know Clinton-as a business man-and not be anything like her! You do realise that Cruz is an evangelist who would be looking to go after gay rights legacies??

          So if Trump wins by a landslide from the people-which he will-the GOP will not vote him? Ew,what c*nts!

    • Is this a cut and pasted rebuttal? I don’t quote Cruz or refer to any action of his, just his record and current standing, so there is no “revealing himself to be more of a turncoat.” That point simply does fit. Is it related to the other non-sensical complaint against Cruz that he is inconsistent on the issues? That one is pure projection, especially coming from Trump’s team. If anything, Cruz is too consistent on the issues. Politicians want other politicians to be flexible, influenceable. Cruz’s consistency is the root of why the DC set hates him—and why his supporters trust him.

      As for my point and earlier pieces, the race was turning into a Cruz v Rubio match for New Hampshire. But Bush and Christie took out Rubio. Wonky observers have noted for some time that the nominee would be Trump, Cruz, or Rubio. Of those Trump has the poorest polling against Hillary. Rubio had the best—the best of the entire field, in fact—but Bush has beaten him up for weeks and Christie finished him off. He’s no longer a viable option. So if it is Cruz or Trump to go against Hillary, Cruz is a much better bet, not only for his polling but also for his record of coming from negligible polling and pulling off big wins. I’ve watched him since ’09 when my husband and I first heard of him as a candidate though the Texas legal community. I’ve seen him pull this kind of feat off.

      • Welshboy

        Well I appreciate your reply so I have a few answers of my own:

        1 – Is this a cut and pasted rebuttal?

        Now either you meant that as an insult to my intelligence or you were just being sarcastically rude, either way there is no need for it.

        2 – I don’t quote Cruz or refer to any action of his, just his record and current standing.

        I never said you did so I don’t where you got that idea from.

        3 – so there is no “revealing himself to be more of a turncoat.”

        His record as Senator lately would say otherwise and where he has been accepting his donations from.

        4 – Is it related to the other non-sensical complaint against Cruz that he is inconsistent on the issues? That one is pure projection, especially coming from Trump’s team. If anything, Cruz is too consistent on the issues. Politicians want other politicians to be flexible, influenceable. Cruz’s consistency is the root of why the DC set hates him—and why his supporters trust him.

        This may have been the case when he became Senator especially when he has been liaising with Rand Paul but lately his voting record suggests he is becoming more like the Establishment.

        5 – As for my point and earlier pieces, the race was turning into a Cruz v Rubio match for New Hampshire. But Bush and Christie took out Rubio. Wonky observers have noted for some time that the nominee would be Trump, Cruz, or Rubio. Of those Trump has the poorest polling against Hillary. Rubio had the best—the best of the entire field, in fact—but Bush has beaten him up for weeks and Christie finished him off. He’s no longer a viable option.

        Surely you can’t be that naive to make calls this early in the primaries as to who could win the Republican candidacy. Even pundits admit it is too early to call anything.

        6 – So if it is Cruz or Trump to go against Hillary, Cruz is a much better bet, not only for his polling but also for his record of coming from negligible polling and pulling off big wins. I’ve watched him since ’09 when my husband and I first heard of him as a candidate though the Texas legal community. I’ve seen him pull this kind of feat off.

        As a matter of opinion, I think at least some of your fellow countrymen and women would struggle to agree as Trump is showing up as somebody who is anti-establishment and knows how to get the job judging by his business acumen and determination. I’ll admit I did like Ted Cruz at first but lately, I’m becoming more convinced that he is not the right man for the job not just because of his recent Senate activities but by way of how he won the Iowa caucus and if I was an American, I would be concerned that he would stoop to such standards to gain Iowa.

      • Jack Robert

        I believe that Trump is going to be a crony capitalist and talk but not do anything realistic on the issues of the economy etc especially at this shaky time in the world. Ted is reliable and is more open to the public and understands DC. It does seem like that Bernie and Trump look likely to fight it out

  • Earthenware

    I’m not sure about all this number-crunching, it’s almost like election by opinion poll.

    Those who have been successful (Reagan, Bush) seem to have connected with people at a gut level. They may have had some unusual policy ideas, but they were charismatic and they weren’t over-burdened with complexity.

    If charisma is a factor then Trump is in and Cruz is out. Trump is a divisive figure but look what a disaster consensus government has been. Consensus isn’t necessary either – Margaret Thatcher was deeply loathed by the left but she won three elections in a row.

  • Liberanos

    The point of political commentary is to analyse and project, removing as far as possible ones own prejudices. So, though I would very much like to see Mr Trump elected, if only for the badly-needed dose of realism and outrage he’d bring, I’m fairly confident he isn’t going to do it. Hillary Clinton has the money, the machine and the huge, traditional left wing vote. She would be my bet.

  • Bogbrush

    Ted Cruz is completely mental; I’d rather have Trump there.

    • Jack Robert

      Why Trump and not Cruz ?

      • Bogbrush

        My favourite TCW subject. Religion.

        • Jack Robert

          Trump is not religious as he worships money and power, Cruz will be angry only on the gay marriage and immigration for both religious and political reasons.Trump is loud mouthed and says things like I am get rid on North Korea … etc, he does not understand the complexity of the situation, as most of the things in his life is a media show, basically an inherited billionaire that says rubbish.

          • Bogbrush

            I don’t trust anyone with power who thinks they answer to a supernatural power from whom all moral authority flows. It’s as simple as that.

  • Shaunr19

    I’d rather see Donald Duck in the White House than Clinton.