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The Right Resistance: Should Ted Cruz run for president in 2024? Would Trump revive ‘Lyin’ Ted’?

Question: If Christmas was two days ago, is it too late to make an after-the-fact present request?

A good many folks are probably wondering the same thing, though the wish I’d hope for is something highly speculative, isn’t available either in stores or online, has a significant price tag attached to it, and, even if I ultimately received it, I’m not sure I’d want it. Sounds peculiar, doesn’t it? I’m speaking of a story that came out last week where Texas senator and 2016 Republican presidential candidate (and runner-up in the primaries to the irreplaceable Donald Trump) Ted Cruz indicated he would “absolutely” consider running for president in 2024. Should we wish for such a thing, and if Cruz does do it, would we want him to win the GOP nomination? Ted’s statement in and of itself doesn’t mean a whole lot. If queried, I’m guessing Cruz would say he’d consider a Supreme Court appointment if he were to receive one, or rocketing to the moon if he were offered a spot by NASA and might even weigh a boxing match against Lone Star State clown and former senate opponent “Beto” O’Rourke should a promoter show up at his door. Ted might also “consider” accepting the job of Attorney General in a future Trump cabinet if the opportunity arose. As you may recall, Cruz met with the newly elected president-to-be early on in the transition in 2016 after Trump dispatched Hillary Clinton. One would think Cruz has a bright future in pretty much anything he endeavors to do. He’s brilliant, always prepared, better at arguing and debating with political opponents than anyone else, relentless in his drive to preserve and expand American liberty and well-known enough that most countrymen have an established opinion of him. Is there a better politician in the land to take on the political establishment elites and beat them? All of this and yet the presidency might not be in the cards for Cruz. Doubt on my behalf wouldn’t stop him from going for it, however. Brad Dress reported at The Hill:

“Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said he would ‘absolutely’ consider running for president in 2024, arguing he was in a good position to win the race because he was the runner-up for the Republican nomination in 2016...

“Cruz previously ran for president in 2016. The senator lost the Republican nomination to former President Trump but placed second in the primary. Cruz said Wednesday that because of his placement in the 2016 primary, he would come into the 2024 race ‘with an enormous base of support.’

“If Cruz does run, he would still face a tough primary considering the loyal base of supporters rallying around Trump. While the former president has not announced a 2024 run yet, he has not ruled out the possibility either. Trump has also kept up a constant stream of statements and interviews since his loss to President Biden in 2020.”

Well, everyone now assumes that Trump will run again in a couple years, so this whole discussion may already be moot. If the leader of the MAGA movement does toss his hat in the GOP’s ring, here’s thinking nearly every possible challenger not named Liz Cheney or John Kasich will gracefully -- or begrudgingly -- step to the side. I would surmise Cruz wouldn’t let his pride get in the way of a sound decision to wait another four years -- or resign himself to the fact he’ll never live in the White House. That’s okay. He’s valuable wherever he is.

For as successful and noteworthy as Cruz has been, I have doubts he’d be able to put together a winning electoral coalition, even against a weakling like Joe Biden. I’m convinced Ted wouldn’t have beaten Hillary Clinton in 2016. Too many people don’t like him and not enough conservatives “love” him like they did Trump. It’s a fact. The populist working class wouldn’t have jumped to Cruz like they did for The Donald.

I talked to enough people during the 2016 primaries to see it. The phenomenon was real.

Cruz is kind of like an “enforcer” in the NHL. The crowd loves it whenever he gets into a scrap with some lily-livered pantywaist liberal opponent on the other team, and roars even louder when the senator scores a knockout punch that sends his bloodied foe’s face crashing to the ice. But the rest of the time, the “goon” is skating around in diversions that don’t accomplish much.

Good luck having Ted negotiate “compromises” with fellow Republicans to move a major legislative push. He’s a lone wolf and great at saying “no” to things. Could he get all sides in a room and make them talk to each other? At least Trump could do that.

Make no mistake, if conservatives need a case argued before the Supreme Court (which Ted has done nine times in his career) or to appear on TV opposite someone like Bernie Sanders to debate healthcare proposals (on CNN, no less), Cruz is your ringer. Similarly, if you’re searching for the perfect man or woman to step on the ruling elites and not care in the least about having his fundraising or committee assignments reduced, look up Ted.

But President Ted Cruz?

I would’ve jumped at the possibility up until May of 2016 and the end of the competition phase of the GOP presidential race. Myself, my family and most of the conservatives I knew were huge Cruz supporters. After identifying and assessing the large group of contenders, conservative leader Richard Viguerie narrowed his choice down to one -- Ted Cruz. Viguerie said there were only three “message carriers” in the 2016 field for either the Democrats or Republicans. They were Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump… and Cruz.

Trump was too much of an unknown entity at that time for most longtime conservative movement leaders to take a chance on. Cruz, on the other hand, was not unknown. He had a track record of battling for conservative issues and causes where others shrunk from the responsibility and “compromised” -- or even worse, sold out.

Conservatives more or less took it on the chin in both the 2008 and 2012 Republican primaries, not being able to consolidate behind a single candidate to fight with the amnesty-supporting “maverick” John McCain, and then having history repeat itself four years later with flip-flopper extraordinaire Mitt Romney as the elites’ favorite. Conservatives couldn’t agree on the anti-Mitt alternative and the establishment’s choice won rather easily.

We all know what happened next. “Hope and Change” and nonstop race baiting prevailed. America took a major hit in those eight years of Obama’s heavy-handed rule.

We were determined not to let it happen again in 2016. The fact Ted wasn’t well-liked or in line for senate leadership positions didn’t bother conservatives. Most folks “in-the-know” suggested Cruz was a friendless pariah within his own conference, someone who didn’t mesh with the good ‘ol boys, was difficult to get along with and consistently set himself apart. Cruz never saw politics as a team sport when principle was in question. And needless to say, he would never be nominated for, much less win, a “Mr. Congeniality” award.

Thanks to smart campaign strategy and effective debate performances, Cruz pulled out a narrow victory in Iowa, outdistancing Trump and taking advantage of the establishment candidates -- Jeb(!) Bush, Marco Rubio, Chris Christie and a few others -- splitting the blueblood vote. Trump then won in New Hampshire an pulled away in South Carolina. Ted was searching for places to blunt the outsider’s momentum. There weren’t enough of them.

It's hard to see how Cruz would do better in 2024. Even if Trump doesn’t go for a three-peat (of vying for and receiving the GOP’s top of the ticket), there are a number of highly reputable conservatives who likely would try for it. First and foremost is Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who would have a leg-up on Cruz because he’s got excellent executive experience, far less baggage, and hasn’t got half of the party ticked off at him like Cruz does.

It shouldn’t be forgotten that Cruz threw quite a few punches of his own in 2016, and politicians have long memories. How, for example, would Ted ever get out from under Trump’s “Lyin’ Ted” nickname for his chief rival? Cruz’s pride was hurt when Trump brought their respective families into the discussion. It was so bad that Ted didn’t even endorse Trump until well into the fall campaign. Those differences have somewhat healed, but it wouldn’t take much for the ill feelings to resurface.

Bygones are only bygones if you allow them to be bygones. Beware of overstepping.

Perhaps it’s good that Ted Cruz left the door open to making another run for president in 2024. His close call in 2016 would certainly give him a historical advantage over a non-Trump GOP field for the party primaries, but there’s also a sense that now may not be the right time for a man who lacks the cult of personality gravitas of someone like Donald Trump. One thing’s for sure, it will be fascinating to watch.

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