I have no idea whether or not Ted Cruz will be a credible Presidential candidate. Who knows anymore? Especially with this Republican Party.
All I know is that he’ll be entertaining to watch. He’s the first GOP candidate in recent memory that, when it comes to substantive issues, is essentially gaffe-proof. While other candidates might try and avoid taking extreme positions or saying controversial things that could be damaging in a general election, or be forced into doing all kinds of verbal jiu-jitsu to explain their voting records to Tea Partiers that don’t care about what it takes to get stuff done in Washington, Cruz (assuming he remains true to form) doesn’t care about any of that.
Even Rick Santorum, by virtue of the fact he was part of the GOP Senate leadership while in Washington, had some votes on his record that he struggled to explain to conservative voters (like his vote in favor of “No Child Left Behind”). Cruz won’t have to worry about that since he’s actively trying to be the ultra-conservative culture warrior who won’t be outflanked on the right by anyone. Talking Points Memo has argued that he will push the entire GOP field to the right – and maybe that’s his #1 goal. Whether it’s a winning strategy in the general election is another question.
Of course, he could still get tripped up on knowledge gaffes (like Rick Perry’s “oops” moment in 2012). He’s intelligent and quick on his feet, but a national campaign can be a difficult undertaking for anyone, and who knows what could happen during a grueling primary season where every moment is a potential YouTube viral video?
It’ll be especially interesting to see how he connects with Iowa and New Hampshire voters (where retail politics are king). For a guy who often sounds and looks like he’s looking down his nose at you, he’ll have a lot to work on before he hits the trail.
I’ve obviously spoken to him before, and I would have liked to have done a more in-depth article of his Senate campaign while I was at The American Lawyer. I did do a piece about how his opponent in that Senate race was trying to use Cruz’s time as a lawyer at a big-time law firm against him. It’ll be interesting to see whether it comes up again, especially given how most Republicans feel about lawyers. I doubt it’ll have the same type of impact as the Bain Capital attacks did on Mitt Romney, though.
UPDATE (07/06/2015): Who thought The Donald would steal Cruz’s thunder? I seriously didn’t see that coming. I thought, for sure, Trump would do his usual flirtation with running before ultimately deciding not to take the plunge (thereby getting weeks of free publicity while getting ready for what he really cares about: filming “Celebrity Apprentice”). I guess I was wrong.