- - Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is the Republican establishment’s man in 2016.

No, really, you read that right. I haven’t gone crazy, and Cruz hasn’t gone Colonel Kurtz, like so many other conservatives we send to Washington, D.C., have. Once they breathe in the airborne contagion known as RCV (“ruling class virus”), the only known cure becomes term limits and primaries.

Instead, what’s happening here is conservatives are looking for a champion to use as a sledgehammer against the toxic combination of Obamaism on the Left and corporatism on the Right, which is embedded like concrete in our body politic nowadays. The problem for grassroots conservatives, who are hesitant about believing in anyone again after having been disappointed so many times, is which one in a potentially star-studded 2016 GOP field of candidates is the one?

For a Republican base that doesn’t like the leadership of its party much more than it likes the Marxist leadership in the White House, seeing the dreaded establishment suffer apoplectic meltdowns and frothing-at-the-mouth at the mere mention of Cruz’s name is exactly the branding they’re looking for. People are looking for a proxy for their wrath. By their own actions, GOP elites are making the case to a fed-up base that Cruz is your champion better than Cruz himself ever could.

Take this recent headline as just one example of what I mean: “Republicans seek revenge against Ted Cruz.”

See, the GOP ruling class — known best for blowing elections and funding Obama’s anti-constitutional schemes because it’s “too hard” to stand up to him — resents the fact Cruz is forcing them to go on the record about where they really stand. You know, similar to how cockroaches don’t like sunlight. This is probably one of the reasons why cockroaches are more popular than Congress in recent public opinion polls.

I see evidence of this regardless of where I go within the GOP base. Whenever the conversation turns to the 2016 Republican presidential primaries, the same talking point comes up every time.

“I think we need a fighter,” they all say — even the gentle, Southern grandmothers who call in. Translation: they think the job of clearing out the rabble rousers is too big for the Gary Cooper “nice guy” sheriff. They’re looking for a Dirty Harry instead.

Then I ask these same people the obvious followup question. Who fits the “fighter” profile they’re looking for? Unless they’re already tied to a candidate (and few are at this early stage), the same name almost always comes up.

Ted Cruz.

For example, I took calls on my nationally syndicated radio show on a day when both Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum were each in the news because of 2016 speculation. I asked my audience, a mixture of libertarians and social conservatives — in other words, the GOP’s base — if there was room in the same field for both Santorum and Huckabee. On the surface, these two men, each of whom I got to know pretty well while they were running victorious Iowa Caucus campaigns in 2008 and 2012, would seem to appeal to many of the same people.

However, over and over again, caller after caller gave me the same response: Huckabee and Santorum seem like “nice guys,” but we need a “fighter” (there’s that word again) this time. Every time I asked those callers who is that “fighter,” the same name came up — Cruz.

Beyond what I’m hearing, let me share what I’m seeing.

Homeschoolers are among the most politically savvy in the Iowa Caucuses. They’re used to seeing presidential candidates come and go constantly. They don’t get warm fuzzies for politicians because they’re accustomed to being wooed by these guys. Yet when Cruz was the guest of honor at this year’s “Homeschool Day at the Capitol” event, I saw the largest crowd and the most buzz I’ve ever seen there for a politician.

Last summer at an event in front of 600 key Iowa pastors that was supposed to showcase fellow “wacko bird” and 2016 aspirant Rand Paul, it was Cruz who stole the show, speaking off-the-cuff on a wide-range of subjects from auditing the Fed to pro-life to repealing Obamacare to the vital role of faith in America. When he concluded his unrehearsed remarks with a live, no-holds-barred Q-and-A with the audience, almost every pastor in that room would have signed up to be on his caucus team if asked. One long-time influential voice in the Iowa Caucuses whispered to me afterwards, “We’ve never seen anything like this.”

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