Texas senator Ted Cruz has infuriated his Republican party leadership by boxing them in into a situation where they could not avoid looking as if they were surrendering on the Tea Party push to defund Obamacare. And sure enough, this afternoon, the Senate voted to restore funding for Obamacare in the continuing resolution bill and sent it back to the House of Representatives.
I don’t think Cruz really cares that so many are laughing at him. He clearly has set his sights on a presidential run and posturing on Obamacare is his way of persuading the rubes in his party that he alone is their stalwart champion.
And it seems to be working. A new poll of Republican primary voters finds that Cruz is now the front runner for the 2016 Republican nominations and is perceived as the leader of the party. He has even pushed ahead of Rand Paul, who got a boost from his own long speechifying earlier this year. Is this the beginning of a trend where anyone with serious ambitions for the White House starts giving interminable speeches?
Our numbers also suggest that Cruz is now viewed more broadly as the leader of the Republican Party. When asked whether they trust Cruz or GOP leader Mitch McConnell more, Cruz wins out 49/13. When it comes to who’s more trusted between Cruz and Speaker John Boehner, Cruz has a 51/20 advantage. And when it comes to Cruz and 2008 GOP nominee and Senate colleague John McCain, Cruz wins out 52/31. He now has more credibility with the GOP base than the folks who have been leading the party for years.
Of course, The Daily Show had a field day with Cruz’s 21-hours of speechifying on the floor of the US senate about the need to deny funding for Obamacare, when it was perfectly clear to everyone, including his Republican colleagues, that this would not change the outcome.
(This clip aired on September 25, 2013. To get suggestions on how to view clips of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report outside the US, please see this earlier post.)