Presidential candidate Rafael Edward “Ted” Cruz
On The Surface
In March, Ted Cruz was the first person to declare candidacy for the 2016 presidential race. While touted as a principled politician by many in the GOP, Cruz remains a highly divisive figure in Washington due to his role in the 2013 shutdown; his obstinacy will likely cost him a chance at the presidency.
Cruz was born in 1970 in Cuba (prompting a debate as to whether he even qualifies as a “natural born” citizen, to which Cruz has responded by pointing out his mother’s citizenship at the time of his birth). He graduated from Princeton and received a law degree from Harvard (with the highest honors from both institutions). He practiced as a lawyer before joining up with the Bush campaign in 1999, later securing a post at the FTC. In addition, Cruz served as Solicitor General of Texas for five years, arguing successfully before the Supreme Court. In 2012, he won a seat in the Senate, where he has served since (the 2013 Government Shutdown was catalyzed by his refusal to compromise on Obamacare).
On social issues, Cruz is the archetypical GOP politician. He opposes marriage equality, abortion, and immigration reform (earning huge backlash from Hispanic voters), advocates gun ownership, and would see Obamacare repealed (though he himself is enrolled). In terms of the economy, Cruz is calling for a Constitutional amendment mandating a balanced budget, lower corporate tax rates (around fifteen percent), and an end to the IRS. While these policy measures may be too far right for many, Cruz is prepared to stand strongly by his beliefs: in an interview with The New Yorker, Cruz said that, “The chattering classes have consistently said, ‘You crazy Republicans have to give up on what you believe and become more like Democrats.’ And, I would note, every time Republicans do that we lose.”
Cruz’s is notorious for his unwillingness to compromise, earning him the title of “most hated man in the Senate” among his colleagues. Many conservative voters are alienated by his far-right positions, and even those who favor his opinions have a host of other similarly-minded candidates to choose from (including Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, and Chris Christie, though these three have yet to announce). And even if Cruz emerges as the Tea Party frontrunner, he still has formidable adversaries within the party at large to contend with: Rand Paul targets libertarian Republicans, while Marco Rubio seeks to compete with Hillary Clinton using populist appeals.
Of course, there’s still the matter of the Democratic nominee (most likely Hillary Clinton). With many voters alienated by Cruz’s extremely conservative stance and his uncooperative inclination, it’s doubtful that he will capture the party’s nomination, let alone the presidency, in 2016.