I’ll admit I thought Rick ‘Sanctimonious’ Santorum was going to be The One for 2016’s spite voters, but it looks like the fickle bastids are already wooing a new head-turner. Dave Weigel reports from last weekend’s “FAMiLY Leader” Iowa unbeauty contest:
… The way social conservative see it, they’ve blown two consecutive primaries to a moderate candidate—one who’s gone on to lose the presidency. Iowa’s supposed to be the Thunderdome that boosts one of their own. In 2012, a majority (57 percent) of caucus-goers were evangelical Christians and a plurality (47 percent) considered themselves “very conservative.” They split their votes and gave the narrowest of mandates to Rick Santorum, and that was two weeks after the FAMiLY Leader endorsed him. What could have happened had the rest of the movement been quicker on the draw. Could they have avoided the distractions of Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich?
They want to find out. That’s what’s driving the presidential talk around Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who arrived in his first elective office this past January. Jamie Johnson, who’d been Rick Santorum’s coalitions director in Iowa, tells me that Barack Obama “changed the game” in 2008 and proved that someone with just a little time in D.C. could win. “He was in for one year and he was already laying the groundwork.” This is why he’s switched from Santorum to Cruz, who doesn’t have “10 years of votes to apologize for.”…
Cruz, who has already cracked double digits in the ridiculously early polls of caucus-goers, takes the afternoon of the summit with a neat trick that outsources the negativity. His father, Rafael, a Cuban-born pastor, precedes him with a speech that’s one-third about his son and two-thirds about how candidates who promise “hope and change” are paving the road to serfdom. “In 1976 I was shocked when I saw a government starting to implement socialist policies in this country, which perhaps the majority of this country didn’t recognize,” he says. “Having seen socialism at work, I clearly recognized the socialist policies of Jimmy Carter.”
It’s a hit. More than one activist tells me that the senior Cruz’s story takes away an advantage that has belonged to Marco Rubio—the crowd-pleasing parable of Obama as Castro. After a short break, Ted Cruz himself arrives, walking back and forth across the stage in black ostrich-skin cowboy boots, delivering old jokes about the root words of “politics” being “poly” and “ticks” before getting to applause line after applause line about his battles in Washington.
“The American people want to secure the borders first,” he says, to applause. “We want to welcome and celebrate legal immigrants.” Applause. “And there is no more forceful advocate for securing the borders than Iowa’s own Steve King.” Yet more applause. Cruz doesn’t actually mention any “social issues.” He invites the audience to join a “grass-roots army” (and his PAC) and adds that he has objects “thrown at me” when he talks about defunding Obamacare in the Senate….
Another sign of Cruz’s attraction for the wingnuts: I’m already seeing comments on news sites along the lines of “Since you lie-brals wouldn’t allow anyone to question Obama’s birth status, it would be totally hypocritical for you to say anything about Our Ted being born in Canada, since his mom was at least as all-American as that teenage Dunham slut.”