- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 19, 2014

It was inevitable. As was the case with Ben Carson, a grass-roots effort to draft Sen. Ted Cruz has been launched by those eager to see the Texas Republican and his plainspoken, but stringent policies enter the 2016 White House race. The early-bird political action committee founded by one Raz Shafer — a former Cruz staffer — is on message and offers a succinct challenge to conservative voters.

“It’s time for Americans to kick-start a national campaign to draft Ted Cruz. We can’t sit on the sidelines and allow a repeat of 2008 and 2012. That’s exactly what Hillary Clinton and the Democrats want us to do. It’s also what Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, and the rest of the Republican establishment wants,” Mr. Shafer notes in his outreach at, yes, RunTedRun.com, which is carefully formatted not to appear as anything official. Yet.

But the Fort Worth-based conservative is optimistic and eager.

“Our goal is to collect 1 million signed petitions this year to serve as the backbone of a campaign that will culminate with Ted Cruz taking the oath of office as the 45th president of the United States on Jan. 20, 2017. It’s time for conservatives to be proud of their vote again,” he advises.

And the next question: Could RunRandRun.com be far behind?

DEMOCRATS INSIST GOP IS SAME OLD SAME OLD

A cautionary tale: Just 24 hours after the Republican National Committee’s launched its ebullient 2014 comeback tour, the Democratic National Committee was all over it. Like a big dog. Republican claims of a productive, reinvented party were pulled to pieces by their insta-critics.

“The Grand Old Party Is the Same Old Party,” the Democrats’ designated rapid response team declared in a new report. An aggressive website touting the newly designated “SOP” is also up and running.

“After losing the 2012 election, the Republican National Committee completed a four-month period of self-reflection after losing its second-straight presidential election. The result of that process became popularly known as the GOP ‘Autopsy Report’ — an analysis of all of the Republican Party’s ailments, and prescriptions for how to cure them,” the Democrats said.

“Party operatives wrote about the need to reach out to communities of color, be more inclusive of gay Americans, and attract more women to the party. But a year later, all the Republican Party has gotten is another year older. No amount of outreach, staff hires, or changes to their primary calendar will change the fact that the GOP’s policy and rhetoric are just as out of step with the majority of American voters as ever.”

Do they have a point? Well, here and there. But Democrats claimed Republicans were out of touch in 2012, and now must think up another marketable barb as the nation ponders questions about Obamacare and the economy. And another thing. Democrats often underestimate the hidden voter potential of flyover country, the heartland and their own populations of disenchanted folk. Note to GOP: Take the high road on such talk, pick battles carefully, and as the sages once said, keep your powder dry.

Many eyes are on the campaign of Bruce Rauner, meanwhile. He won the Republican gubernatorial primary on Tuesday in Illinois, and is now poised to oppose Gov. Pat Quinn, whose tepid favorability numbers linger around 37 percent. Mr. Rauner vexes the Democrats, and has been called “the Mitt Romney of Illinois” by local political observers.

SERGEANT WOODS GOES HOME

A Tennessee soldier will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery on Friday, almost five decades after he was shot down over Vietnam in a C-123 Provider aircraft with seven camrades during a supply mission to a U.S. Special Forces camp near Bu Prang. Army Staff Sgt. Lawrence Woods of Clarksville, a member of the Fifth Special Forces Group in Fort Campbell, Kentucky will be buried as part of a group in a ceremony honoring the servicemen lost on Oct. 24, 1964.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has declared Friday to be a day of mourning, with state office flags at half staff from sunrise to sunset to honor the sergeant, who died at 39 and left a wife and three children behind.

The remains of most of the crew were found shortly after the aircraft went down and they were laid to rest. Also on board: Air Force service members Capt. Valmore W. Bourque, 1st Lt. Edward J. Krukowiski, 1st Lt. Robert G. Armstrong, Staff Sgt. Ernest J. Halvorson, Staff Sgt. Theodore B. Phillips, Airman 1st Class Eugene Richardson and Army Pfc. Charles P. Sparks. Woods was not among them, and was listed as “Missing in action, presumed dead.”

Joint teams from the U.S., Kingdom of Cambodia and Socialist Republic of Vietnam went through the crash site three times over a 14-year period and eventually found and identified the soldier’s remains. He is survived by his children, four siblings, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Another 1,642 American service members still remain unaccounted-for from the Vietnam War.

A MATTER OF FAITH

Everybody tweets on all sorts of things, including Pope Francis. But controversy awaited Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who on Sunday tweeted this: “Philippians 4:13,” a Biblical reference to “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” — or something very similar, depending on the translation. Forty-eight hours later, Mr. Walker received a letter from the Freedom from Religion Foundation in Madison, accusing him of “misuse” of the official account to promote religion.

“This braggadoccio verse coming from a public official is rather disturbing,” the group said, noting that the 18-character message “seems more like a threat, or the utterance of a theocratic dictator than a duly elected civil servant.”

They later added, “And governor, you took an oath of office to uphold the entirely godless and secular U.S. Constitution,” ultimately concluding that the message made Wisconsin citizens “uncomfortable.”

A PRESIDENTIAL MOMENT

Sure. Why not do another talk show? Aw, go ahead.

“The commander in chief is on Ellen live via satellite from Washington D.C. in his first appearance on the show since being elected to office! President Obama will be talking to our host from the White House, and Ellen is ready to entertain her VIP guest with an inspiring conversation. Both President Obama and our host have proven their dance moves, their desire for good, and their Twitter skills. Now the leader of the free world, and the champion of comedy will get into the president’s new health care initiative. From L.A. to D.C., Ellen rolls out the red carpet for the United States’ fearless and brilliant head of state!”

And so reads the enthusiastic description from the producers of Ellen DeGeneres‘ daytime talk show. Mr. Obama appears Thursday to address the Obamacare sign-up deadline now 11 days off, sharing the bill with performer Justin Timberlake.

POLL DU JOUR

61 percent of Americans approve of the Keystone XL pipeline that would transport oil from Canada to refineries in Texas.

84 percent of Republicans, 78 percent of conservatives, 49 percent of Democrats and 44 percent of liberals agree.

58 percent of Democratic men and 56 percent of “conservative Democrats” also agree.

27 percent of Americans overall disapprove of the pipeline.

9 percent of Republicans, 15 percent of conservatives, 38 percent of Democrats and 44 percent of liberals also disapprove.

12 percent overall “don’t know” about the pipeline.

8 percent of Republicans, 8 percent of conservatives, 13 percent of Democrats and 11 percent of liberals also do not know.

Source: A Pew Research Center poll of 1,036 U.S. adults conducted Feb. 27-March 16.

Caterwaul and subtle asides to jharper@washingtontimes.com

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