- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 4, 2016

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. — Sen. Ted Cruz says anti-Obama sentiment is sweeping the nation and helping to fuel the grassroots movement behind his own presidential bid, and compares it to the revolution that powered Ronald Reagan to victory in 1980 over President Carter.

But Mr. Cruz is facing many Republican voters who fear he’s more like Mr. Obama than Reagan, saying the GOP hopeful strikes them as an ideological warrior who would struggle to get things done in Washington.

“I think he is a lot like Obama,” said Steve McMahon, 65, of Manchester, who is supporting Sen. Marco Rubio. “If you disagree with him, he will beat you down, he will attack you, as opposed to saying ‘Let’s work together.’ “

Mr. McMahon, a financial adviser, said he shares a lot Mr. Cruz’s beliefs, but questions whether the 45-year-old could get anything done given how he comes off as “divisive” and “angry” and the way in which he has butted heads with members of both parties.

“They don’t like him on his own side, and they don’t like him on the other side,” he said.

It’s a charge leveled first by Donald Trump, who said Mr. Cruz’s own colleagues in the Senate don’t like him.

Indeed, Mr. Cruz does not have any endorsements of fellow senators — though none of them echoed Mr. Trump’s attack on their colleague. By contrast Sen. Marco Rubio has garnered a half-dozen endorsements from fellow senators.

Al Horvath, a 74-year-old from North Hampton, New Hampshire, who attended a Cruz rally at a car dealership here Thursday, said he likes how Mr. Cruz would not bend easy on principles, but said he also is taking into account a candidate’s electability and ability to govern.

“I think [Rubio] might have an easier time getting along because of his personality, and it is likely that he might compromise a little bit more, but I don’t think on anything serious. So yeah he might have an easier time,” he said. “It is a factor. My gut tells me that he’s got a better chance of winning.”

Even some disgruntled Democrats are willing to give Mr. Rubio a look, but not Cruz.

“I look at Cruz as somebody who is as bad as Obama,” said Ellen Davis, of Hopkinton, who is hunting for a Republican to support in the general election. “They’ve got their political ideology and it is so far on the [left and right] that they can’t come and meet and do something for this country.”

But for some Republicans, Mr. Cruz’s unwavering approach to legislating is what’s attractive about him.

“When he says he is going to do something, he does it,” said David Smiley, 53, of Auburn. “He doesn’t back down from his word.”

Mr. Cruz’s solidified his rock star status among grassroots conservatives in 2013 when he held a 21-hour filibuster against Obamacare, and led an effort to defund the law that led to a 16-day partial government shutdown.

The move, however, frayed ties with fellow Republicans, who said Mr. Cruz was making promises to voters that were impossible for Congress to keep.

Mr. Cruz then flirted with further shutdowns by demanding Congress use the spending process to stop Mr. Obama’s immigration plans and delete federal funding for Planned Parenthood. He also called Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, a “liar” on the Senate floor.

On Wednesday, new House Speaker Paul D. Ryan — without mentioning Mr. Cruz — criticized “voices in the conservative movement” who promised outcomes that were impossible to achieve with Mr. Obama wielding a veto in the White House.

Michael Bloomer, a sheriff who lives in Windham, N.H., said this week he is voting for Mr. Cruz because of the way he has stood on principle, and said he is no fan of Mr. Ryan - though he acknowledged that the Cruz approach has not made him many allies inside Washington.

“The establishment just doesn’t want him,” the 45-year-old. “The reason they are backing Rubio now is that he has already bent to them. With the Gang of Eight [immigration bill], he did exactly what they wanted.”

Mr. Cruz, who scored a victory in Iowa’s caucuses on Monday, has downplayed expectations for New Hampshire, where voters are more moderate on social issues.

But Mr. Cruz has received warm welcomes from large, electric crowds that have cheered his vows to rescind President Obama’s “unconstitutional” executive orders, repeal Obamacare, abolish the IRS and defeat the Islamic State terrorists.

Speaking in Nashua this week, Mr. Cruz said his win in Iowa was a victory “for millions of courageous conservatives across this country” and likened the current political environment to the late 1970s when the Reagan coalition came together to end the Carter administration.

“The same thing is happening here,” Mr. Cruz said. “All across New Hampshire, all across this country, people are waking up and it took Jimmy Carter to give us Ronald Reagan.”

“I am convinced that the most long lasting legacy of Barack Obama is going to be a new generation of leaders in the Republican party who stand and fight for freedom, who stand stand and fight for the constitution, who stand for the Judeo-Christian values that built America,” he said, sparking prolonged applause from the crowd.

Frank Stoughton, a Cruz supporter, said he expects a President Cruz to forge new coalitions, saying the Texan is operating from a position of power because his arguments are based on the Constitution.

“The question is: What is the right thing to do?” Mr. Stoughton said. “That is a stronger impulse than what happens if he gets to be president.”

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