So what’s the difference between presidential candidates Rand Paul and Ted Cruz?
Ted Cruz is running against Barack Obama. Rand Paul is running against Hillary Clinton. One represents the past. The other represents the future.
Both men are U.S. Senators running for president in 2016. Rand Paul is from Kentucky, Ted Cruz is from Texas. (Rand Paul is expected to announce on April 7, 2015.)
Both men are conservatives whose careers were launched during the rise of the Tea Party. Both are born again Christians. And both signed the controversial Senate letter supporting Israel. So if they have the same base of support, what’s the difference?
Rand Paul excites that base and motivates them to action. Ted Cruz has all but given up on that base and is focusing exclusively and only on born again Christians. He is betting that he will take that vote, and only that vote, and win it all. It is a high stakes gamble that counts on driving out of the way born again Christians such as Rick Perry, Mike Huckabee, Marco Rubio and yes even Rand Paul.
Bottom line, Rand Paul can win a national election. Ted Cruz cannot. Early polling bears that out. Polls can be fickle and don’t always reflect reality this far in advance but most polls show only Rand Paul close to Hillary Clinton in any of the battleground states. Not Bush, Christie, Rubio, Perry, Huckabee and not Cruz.
There is more bad news. Ted Cruz, like Rand Paul, once championed the cause of the growing Libertarian wing of the GOP, taking on the corruption of the free enterprise system with its corporate welfare and calling for an audit of the Federal Reserve. Now Libertarians charge that after arriving in the U.S. Senate Ted Cruz sold out fast and cheaply. It seems that his wife was hired by Goldman Sachs. It is the banking firm that has become the poster child for insider, establishment, power. Goldman Sachs was the major donor to both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney in the last election.
The day after announcing for president, Ted Cruz openly attacked Goldman Sachs and said his wife would take a leave of absence from her job to help on his campaign but the damage was done. Whatever hope Ted Cruz had to lead the Libertarian Wing of the Republican Party is now dead. “Mrs. Cruz,” a Libertarian leader told me, “Is the Claire Underwood of this campaign cycle.” She will leave behind Hillary Clinton’s son-in-law who works for the same Goldman Sachs firm.
Meanwhile, the Ted Cruz announcement brought fierce reaction from Hispanics who see the Senator as having betrayed his own roots. “His family got their freedom,” said one Hispanic evangelical leader, “Now they want everybody else to do it strictly by the book.”
Rand Paul has real, organic support from the young, from Hispanics from African Americans and from Liberal Democrats. The latter care about civil liberties. African Americans care about Rand Paul’s criminal justice reform. Many Hispanics who support Paul care about insiders gaming the system and the loss of the American dream for the new American. Under both Democrat and Republican presidents the poor continue to get poorer and the rich richer. The young now see “free markets” as “fixed” by advantages created by powerful lobbies. The young care about a free Internet and Rand Paul has become the guardian of the Internet.
The Ted Cruz presidential launch at Liberty University last Monday may have been a metaphor for the coming campaign. Cruz, who cannot attract the crowds of a Rand Paul, choose the only forum that could guarantee a large audience, a university convocation with mandatory student attendance. Nevertheless, sitting very visibly behind the Senator, in their red shirts declaring, “Stand with Rand”, were quietly defiant students. They were not rude like the Libertarians one sometimes sees online. They represent the new Christian Liberty Movement. This week RandPac will mail out thousands of their videos with Senator Rand Paul’s born again testimony.
The Cruz machine was careful to point to spectacular fund raising after his event. It was a calculated attempt to shore up a very real weakness. “Evangelical only” candidates cannot raise money. Ask Mike Huckabee. Christian leaders will give verbal support but they need their people’s money for their own projects. Sorry. Meanwhile, Rand Paul with his diverse, motivated base will have money and a ground game.
The message is clear for Ted Cruz. His path is fatally blocked by those young people in the red shirts standing before him. They can be made to hear him speak but they will get to vote the way they want.
Here is the video produced by the American Liberty Association, going out this week.