Ted Cruz made an important point in an interview with Chuck Todd yesterday: the political dynamic changes when leaders are willing to fight on an issue. This is why the truce strategy, in general, on social issues is so idiotic. It not only assumes people will keep voting for you if you do nothing and say nothing when a fight emerges; it assumes there are no voters to be gained, and no minds to be changed, by elevating the issue to one you are willing to fight about.
If not on defunding Planned Parenthood, then surely on the late-term abortion ban:
TED CRUZ: Why do you think John Boehner’s stepping down? He’s stepping down because the American people are furious with Republican leaders that don’t do what they promised. And you know, it’s interesting. I do townhalls all over the country. And I asked folks, “Okay. We have Republican majorities in both houses for ten months now. What on Earth have they accomplished?” Every town hall you do that, the answer is always, “Absolutely nothing.” And — and usually I respond and say, “You know what? It’s worse than that. It would have been better if it were nothing. In fact, what the Republican majorities have done, we came back right after the last election, passed a trillion dollars cromnibus bill, filled with corporate welfare report. Then Republican leadership and — and leadership joined with Harry Reid and the Democrats to do that. Then leadership voted to fund Obamacare. Then they voted to fund amnesty. Then they voted to fund Planned Parenthood. And then Republican leadership took the lead confirming Loretta Lynch as Attorney General. Now Chuck, which one of those decisions is one iota different than what would happened under Harry Reid and the Democrats? The truth of the matter is Republican leadership are the most effective Democrat leaders we’ve ever seen. They’ve passed more Democratic priorities than Harry Reid ever could.
CHUCK TODD: I’m trying to figure out though how you’re gonna unite your party because let me — let me — I’m just gonna read you quotes from your fellow Republicans. Senator Lamar Alexander said this about you. “In kindergarten, you learn to work well together and play by the rules. Another thing you learn in kindergarten is to respect one another.” Senator Orrin Hatch, “Squabbling and sanctimony may be tolerated in other venues or perhaps on the campaign trail but they have no place among colleagues in the US Senate.” John McCain, “I would never contemplate going to the floor of the Senate, impugning the integrity of another senator, just not something we do here.” This was about what you said about Mitch McConnell. And, of course, Speaker Boehner called you a, “false prophet,” and another word that I’m not gonna say on Sunday morning television. How do you unite this par — how do you lead a Republican party when Orrin Hatch, Lamar Alexander, John McCain, John Boehner, these are well respected men, think this lowly of you?
SEN. TED CRUZ: Listen, if — if you’re looking for a candidate who the career politicians in Washington will embrace, I’m not your guy. Washington’s broken. People are frustrated outta their minds. Everyone in the Republican primary is standing up saying, “Vote for me because I will stand up and fight Washington.” Two weeks ago, we had an epic, knock down, drag out fight on exactly this. Millions of conservatives rose up, said, “defund Planned Parenthood.” Again I was proud to lead that fight. And where were the other candidates? It’s — it was like they were in the witness protection plan. Can you imagine how different that fight would have played out if all 11 Republican presidential candidates had descended on Washington and said in one voice, “Mitch McConnell and John Boehner, don’t send five hundred million dollars of taxpayer funds to Planned Parenthood?”
CHUCK TODD: You know, there’s another way to look at this, Senator Cruz, which is you stood up on Obamacare, you stood up on Planned Parenthood, you stood up on immigration and nobody follows you.
SEN. TED CRUZ: Well, that — that’s —
CHUCK TODD: I mean — I’m — I’m just saying nobody in Washington follows you.
SEN. TED CRUZ: I — look —
CHUCK TODD: You have to — if you get elected President, you gotta get somebody to follow your lead in Washington whether you like it or not.
SEN. TED CRUZ: Listen, at the end of the day, it — it’s not about Republican leadership. And by the way in each of those fights, just about every time we’ve had a battle between me and leadership with a Republican caucus, about 1/2 of the caucus has been with me. About 1/2 of the caucus has been with leadership. At the end of the day, if you’re looking for someone who’s running to be a member of the club, that’s not me. You know, it’s interesting. You were reading all the attacks. You know, I mention in my book, my book, I quote all of the nasty things Republicans have said about me. And, you know, in response to that, I don’t reciprocate much to the annoyance of many in the media who want me to attack Donald Trump, want me to attack Mitch McConnell, want me to attack John Boehner. I don’t attack any of them.
Maggie Gallagher is a senior fellow at American Principles in Action.