Speaking at CPAC, Ted Cruz invoked Ronald Reagan’s admonition to paint not in pale pastels but in bold colors – and bold he was. Cruz seemingly came to CPAC with two objectives: to establish himself as the most conservative of potential presidential candidates and the toughest fighter for conservative principles. As of the end of Day One, he had succeeded.
Cruz made very clear his policy priorities: repeal “every blasted word” of Obamacare, abolish the IRS, stop the out-of-control regulators at the EPA and the “alphabet soup” of Washington agencies, defend our Constitutional rights, restore America’s place in the world, defend every human life from conception to natural death, and leave the definition of marriage to the states.
No truces on social issues here; rather, Senator Cruz called for rebuilding the three-legged Reagan coalition of fiscal, social, and national defense conservatives. Otherwise, his agenda is recognizable as populist conservatism.
On economic policy, Senator Cruz vaguely called for a populist campaign which stands with hard working men and women, but he did not specifically identify with the economic hardships now being experienced by the middle class, nor did he provide a narrative of reform.
Senator Cruz’s main riff went to the heart of the political challenge in a crowded field: how does a candidate differentiate himself from the rest? Cruz’s answer: I’m the guy who stood up and fought (for principle).
Senator Cruz scores well on style points as a forceful speaker who paces the stage without a script. Lots of red meat served; a rather skimpy portion of prudence (abolish the IRS? Where did that come from, Rand Paul?).
Steve Wagner is the founder and president of QEV Analytics, a Washington DC -based public opinion research firm.