Ted Cruz energizes the conservative base of the GOP like no other

Molly Ball:
They hate Ted Cruz so much.

His fellow senators publicly denounce him and call him names. They yell at him behind closed doors and complain about him to their lobbyist friends. They hate him with a wild, deranging passion. The Beltway grandees, with their consulting contracts and expensive suits, would sooner die or move to Europe than live in the America he would govern.

And Cruz revels in their hatred.

“You know,” the Texas senator said, eyebrows tented plaintively, black hair neatly parted on the left, “when we launched this campaign, the New York Timespromptly opined, ‘Cruz cannot win, because the Washington elites despise him.’” He paused for effect, exactly the same way he had paused for effect the previous night in Whitefield, exactly the same way he would pause for effect the next morning in Exeter. Then he delivered the punch line: “I kind of thought that was the whole point of the campaign!”

The White Buffalo Trading Post, a convenience store and pizza restaurant in this rural town on the eastern side of the state, was packed to the gills with bearded, plaid-shirted Granite Staters. It was standing-room-only in the back room where Cruz was speaking, where the dining tables had been removed and the smell of pizza drifted in from the adjoining kitchen. Dozens of reporters and cameramen jostled for position—Cruz has a media contingent befitting a frontrunner. The crowd filled the aisles of the store, children hoisted on shoulders, bodies crammed between the shelves of snacks and the register counter.

Aside from Donald Trump, no candidate appears better positioned than Cruz as Republican primary voters prepare to cast their first ballots. He is favored to win Iowa; he has surged to second in New Hampshire, frustrating the hope of mainstream Republicans that a more acceptable candidate could consolidate support in the traditionally moderate-friendly state. Through canny co-optation of the right-wing counterestablishment, and a methodical and strategic campaign, Cruz stands on the brink of a goal that the GOP’s grassroots activists have spent decades trying to achieve. These are not the elephant-brooch Republicans who populate party meetings. They are the seething fringe of Tea Party rallies and talk radio, of antigovernment email lists and small-town committees for individual rights. If Cruz succeeds in riding them to the nomination, it will mean more than one man's candidacy; it will mean the right wing has succeeded in completing its hostile takeover of the Republican Party.

The audience laughed and cheered Cruz’s joke, which he also laughed at, lips stretched thin over perfect teeth, his whole body shaking silently. “Listen,” he continued, “if you think things in Washington are doing great and we need to keep heading in the same basic direction—just kind of fiddle around the edges—then I ain’t your guy. On the other hand, if you think Washington is fundamentally broken, that there is a bipartisan coalition of career politicians in both parties that get in bed with lobbyists and special interests and grow and grow and grow government, and we need to take power out of Washington”—at this, he crouched and reached forward as if to physically snatch something from an unseen foe—“and back to We the People”—leaped up and hurled his clenched fist backward—“that is what this campaign is all about!”
Ther is more.

I excerpted this segment of the piece to give an idea of why Ted Cruz has been so successful in his campaign appearances.   In Washington, they may cast aspersions on Cruz, but in these campaign appearances, it seems clear the voters think he is right.  That probably really scares the establishment in DC.


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