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Eye On Candidates
January 13, 2016

Cruz May Be Gaining a Foothold in the Establishment Camp

The New York Times has an intriguing piece this morning on how Sen. Ted Cruz is starting to have some success in worming his way into favor with the establishment of the Republican party.

Ted Cruz Starts to Crack G.O.P. Establishment’s Wall of Opposition

NEW ORLEANS — Striding up the sidewalk of one of this city’s most affluent neighborhoods on Monday evening, S. Scott Sewell seemed an unlikely figure to be attending a fund-raiser for Senator Ted Cruz. An oil industry executive, Mr. Sewell served in President George Bush’s administration, lent a hand to George W. Bush’s 2000 presidential recount, and was twice a chairman for Mitt Romney’s Louisiana campaigns.

But if such a creature of the Republican establishment appeared an odd fit to support a candidate whose political identity was shaped challenging his party’s leadership, the candlelit, art-filled setting for Mr. Cruz’s reception was even more surprising: the elegant home of the longtime Bush loyalist Mary Matalin and her husband, James Carville, the Democratic strategist. …

Some in the old guard have started signaling to their reluctant right-of-center brethren that it is time to face the possibility that the hard-line Mr. Cruz could be their standard-bearer.

“If Cruz makes it, which is very doable, every one of the establishment crowd who is now eviscerating him will line up, salute smartly and get on board,” Ms. Matalin said, offering a mix of prodding and prophecy. “No one will want to be responsible for a G.O.P. defeat.”

That even traces of détente have appeared between Mr. Cruz and the party’s traditional power brokers this early illustrates how thoroughly unpredictable the Republican race has been — and that, for major political donors, it can be safer to hedge one’s bets in such a volatile environment.

In the meantime, as S.V. Dáte points out at National Journal, Cruz is having to fend off “birther” insinuations from Donald Trump, the rival candidate he has refrained from attacking:

In return, Trump has begun floating questions about Cruz’s Canadian birth, and whether it makes him ineligible for the presidency under the Constitution. Worse for Cruz, it started just as he was kicking off a six-day bus tour of Iowa—a state he’s hoping will springboard his campaign to a string of primary victories.

We’ll see if Cruz can hang on to his 3-point lead over Trump in Iowa (as reported by the Des Moines Register) in the three weeks leading up to the caucuses there.