Republican Ted Cruz started off Saturday hunting pheasants in Iowa before heading on to bigger game: votes of support for a possible Presidential bid. From the look of things, the Texan had a very good day. Cruz might not be Mr. Popularity in Washington, but he was a big hit at a major GOP fund-raising luncheon in the state that hosts the first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses. While not letting up on Republican moderates, he did offer his thoughts on how best to unite the party.
Cruz has only been a senator since January, but he seems to be eyeing the White House. He’s been in Iowa three times in the last three months. And if anyone thinks his part in the unsuccessful government shutdown has slowed him down, think again. Saturday Cruz assured his audience that the fight over Obamacare is not over. And he repeated his belief that Republicans, at the very least, could have forced a delay in the President’s key domestic initiative had more of his Senate colleagues joined forces with the House majority.
That sort of talk has caused many to consider Cruz a divisive force in the Republican Party, pitting more moderate members of his party – referred to as RINOs (Republican in Name Only) by some of his supporters – against the Tea Party. But during his two days in Iowa, Republican Ted Cruz did more than just hunt pheasants and look for votes from folks who already support him. He also offered his proscription for bringing Republicans together: focus on the economy.
The state of the economy will always be an issue for the party in power, and the US economy could be a significant electoral liability. The country is experiencing a lackluster recovery, at best. The jobless rate remains above seven percent. The most recent figures, released after the government shutdown, do not offer much cheer. Manufacturing output dropped in October, the first time that’s happened since September 2009. The latest figures on consumer confidence fell more dramatically than experts had predicted.
There’s a growing consensus that this is as good as it’s going to get for a while. Barron’s paints a particularly dismal picture, saying that the economy may eventually slow to the point where it can no longer provide the revenue to fund the top priorities of either party.
Then there’s Obamacare. In time it may become a very popular program. But the immediate pain and dislocation of such a sweeping initiative likely will upset many voters. No doubt Obamacare will be a hot-button issue in the 2014 congressional elections, and it probably will remain a factor in 2016.
Cruz pounded on all of it Saturday, saying that every member of the Republican Party, regardless of differences on some issues, could agree on a common approach to the economy, based on free markets, smaller government, fewer taxes and economic growth.
A bad economy didn’t keep voters from returning President Obama to office the last time around. But exuberance (irrational, some say) is one of Cruz’s strong suits. And a little pheasant hunting in Iowa just may help persuade Republican primary voters that Ted Cruz is the man they want to deliver their economic message.
Written by Mike Clancy