The GOP social conservative oriented candidates that accepted the Family Research Council’s invitation to speak at last Friday’s conference, were Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee, Senator [mc_name name=’Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’R000595′ ] and [mc_name name=’Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001098′ ] – plus a couple of bottom dwellers, Rick Santorum and Bobby Jindal, who may be sooner than later, exiting the race. Donald Trump appeared at the event as well. There was so much material worthy of comment, that I dealt with him individually on a report published on my own blog site, Blasted Fools. This garnered a fierce reaction.
The candidate that brought the strongest game to the VVS, was Texas Senator Ted Cruz. Cruz understands, possibly better than any of the other GOP contestants, how to deliver a high impact message tailored to the emotional frame of a specific audience.
This specific audience heard a “Ted Talk” about Planned Parenthood and the Little Sisters of the Poor and a host of other issues near and dear to them. In this setting, Ted was in his rousing sermon mode, yet made everything feel spontaneous and personal.
Among Cruz’ opening comments was a tip of the hat to both Tony Perkins, director of the Family Research Council, the Values Voter Summit audience and an artful jab at outgoing House Speaker [mc_name name=’Rep. John Boehner (R-OH)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’B000589′ ] and the GOP establishment of which Cruz has become a feared enemy combatant:
I am so honored to be back with so many friends today. (Cheers, applause.) I want to say, my friend Tony Perkins, the Family Research Council, does incredible work in this country. (Cheers, applause.) You want to talk about a strong, principled, conservative who scares the living daylights out of Washington. But I have to tell you, Tony doesn’t scare Washington nearly as much as the men and women gathered in this ballroom do. (Applause.) You want to know how much each of you terrify Washington? Yesterday, [mc_name name=’Rep. John Boehner (R-OH)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’B000589′ ] was speaker of the House. (Cheers, applause.) Y’all come to town, and somehow that changes. (Cheers, applause.) My own request is can you come more often? (Cheers, applause.) Tony, we need to schedule these weekly — once a week. (Cheers, applause.)
Cruz, reeled off a dizzying list of objects and entities that he intends to confront on move in day at the Oval Office. The Iran Nuclear agreement, Obamacare, Taxes, defense spending, government constraints on religious liberty, debt and excessive spending, and un-armed military recruiters, to name a few.
Of Barack Obama’s executive actions, Cruz said.
The first thing I intend to do is rescind every single illegal and unconstitutional executive action. (Cheers, applause.) The president tells us he’s got a phone and he’s got a pen. Well, you live by the pen you die by the pen. (Cheers, applause.) And my pen has got an eraser. (Laughter, applause.) But sadly, the corruption’s not been limited to the White House. It has extended across every agency of the federal government.
Cruz ramped up his customarily moderate and balanced foreign policy rhetoric, seizing the opportunity to focus a laser pointer at Hillary Clinton in issuing the heated declaration:
I got to tell you, I can’t wait to stand on a debate stage next to Hillary Clinton — (cheers, applause) — and to make very clear to the American people, if you vote for Hillary, you are voting for Iran to acquire nuclear weapons. (Applause.) And if you vote for me, under no circumstance will a nation led by a theocratic ayatollah who chants death to America, under no circumstances will Iran be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons.
The other GOP hopefuls were reviewed in more depth in the follow up report, in which I also observe the strange visit from [mc_name name=’Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’M000303′ ] and what might have been behind his appearance. There were a couple more participants in the event, that I apologetically declined to go into any detail discussing, due to the fact that for better or worse, they are so much in the margins in this race now, that they are of little consequence in the overall discussion – former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal.
So, who did the VVS 2015 attendees conclude to be the most impressive among the group they saw last weekend? Ted Cruz won the VVS straw poll with 35% of the votes (once again for the third straight time), Ben Carson took about half that number at 18%, Huckabee got 14%, Rubio – 13% and Donald Trump brought up the rear with just 5% – a result that he likely won’t be touting on campaign stops and media engagements such as his rapprochement with Fox News and interview with Bill O’Reilly last night. Jeb Bush and Carly Fiorina – both no shows, garnered only 1% and 3% respectively.
Ted Cruz is the candidate that holds the most upside potential and steady momentum going forward in the nomination race – especially if the Trump burn out factor that we are beginning to see, holds course. Cruz has been wisely pacing himself while simultaneously ramping up his intensity in speeches and interviews.
This, as they say, is a marathon not a sprint.