The Combative Nature of Ted Cruz May Hurt Him

No one here will deny that Ted Cruz is a prize fighter. In fact, that’s why we love him here. It’s why Ted Cruz was and is so staunchly supported here at RedState by all of us on the Front Page. All of that said, however, I do have a question, and it is a legitimate question going in to the race for the nomination: Is that fighting nature which is such a positive aspect of Cruz’s career also a negative? This is the question ultimately poised by Molly Ball at The Atlantic, which uses a lot of sourcing to tell the story as to why not a single U.S. Senator, even Mike Lee, appears to be willing to endorse Cruz.

Lee’s communications director, Conn Carroll, confirmed to me that Lee and his staff had no advance warning that Cruz was planning to brutally attack—and, in Lee’s view, misrepresent—his friend’s bill. “Going into that hearing, we definitely thought it was in the realm of possibility he would come out against it, just not with that kind of colorful language,” Carroll told me. The bill made it out of committee that day, but now it appears to be in trouble, with several other Republican senators taking Cruz’s line against it at a Senate lunch last week.

Today, Lee has conspicuously joined every other sitting senator in declining to endorse Cruz’s presidential run. And while Lee and Cruz are still friends, the episode vividly illustrates Cruz’s talent for irritating other senators.

It is one thing for Kelly Ayotte, Mitch McConnell, Orrin Hatch, and other quite useless Senators to hate Cruz with every liberal fiber (read: every fiber) of their being, but it is another for your closest friend and ally in the Senate to not endorse you.

It could be that Lee feels there is little to gain in choosing being three colleagues – Cruz, Rubio, and Paul. If that is the case, then it is most certainly understandable. But, Lee admits he stood with Cruz the entire time the Gang of Eight bill was an issue. Lee’s record is more with Cruz than Rubio, let alone Paul. If he is withholding a nomination based on there being three colleagues in the race, it seems for a formality than out of friendship.

And, let’s not call into question the conservatism of any of the four Senators here: Cruz, Rubio, Lee, and Paul are all RedState-backed Senators, each with a great history of fighting for the right things. That nature of alienating even your closest allies, however, is something that Cruz will have to deal with, whether conservatives think it is a challenge or not. It will be hard to pass conservative reforms when your own party is lined up against you and your allies waver even slightly at how you go about championing your causes.

That is not to say that Ball’s story is not without faults. Using Mike Lee as one anecdote is cause for concern, but to say the Chamber of Commerce is “generally conservative” is a flat-out lie given their treatment of conservatism in the Boehner/McConnell era of Congress.

Cruz has my support if he wins, and I urge all of my Republican friends who abhor Cruz’s tactics to declare the same thing. However, Cruz will have to address his relationships in Washington D.C. with a little more than “The Washington Elite have lined up against me.” He’ll need to make amends with his own allies, as well.