Watching James Carville gush about Ted Cruz on This Week on ABC News yesterday was kind of bizarre. Carville described Cruz as the most fearless and talented Republican in thirty years. And it didn’t stop there. He went on and on praising Cruz as the ambitious young Senator who has already made a name for himself.
I am a big fan of Ted Cruz. I’ve known him since the Bush campaign and White House days, and I’ve been with Ted and Heidi (who is very talented and accomplished in her own right) in social situations.
Having been around Ted in so many different situations, I’ve been able to see how he operates. If I had to describe him in a few words, I’d say he’s fiercely driven and possesses unlimited energy.
I remember being at an event a couple of years ago in Texas, and Ted took twenty-five minutes with me to discuss his plans for running for the U.S. Senate and get my read on it. Of course, I was all in because I knew he’d make a great Senator, so I encouraged him to go for it. I noticed that he was taking lots of time with everyone there and then he gathered everyone together to address the possibility more formally. It was clear to me at that moment that Ted Cruz would make it big and boy did he!
I have a strong suspicion that Ted is incredibly committed to making a presidential run. I would love for that to happen. I’m a big fan of both Ted and Marco Rubio for POTUS. Both men are young, passionate, bold, and good looking. Clearly, they are not out of the mold of some recent Republican candidates who had their day and were accomplished in their own way, but clearly didn’t have quite what it takes to get elected (Dole, McCain, and Romney come to mind).
Back to Carville. Why would he be so rah rah Ted Cruz? He is the ultimate Democrat political strategist so it’s hard to believe that he’s not doing this out of some great agenda. My suspicion is that he thinks Cruz is the only one who could beat Marco Rubio who at this point might be more difficult to defeat in a General Election.
Why would this be? Texas is a solid red state, but Florida has recently voted with the Democrats more than the Republicans. In Presidential Campaigning 101, we always analyze first the states solidly in one camp or the other and then assign those too close to call as toss up states. Those are the states the entire campaign will focus on. In the next election, Florida will be one of those states again. For that reason, I don’t think Carville wants his beloved Hillary Clinton facing Marco Rubio.
I fully believe Carville will be Hillary’s campaign manager, so anything he says or does from here on out has to be viewed in that context. I believe that contrary to all the praise, Carville thinks he’d have an easier time defeating Cruz. My suspicion is that in a presidential campaign he’d make sure to paint Ted as “crazy,” “right wing,” “out of touch,” and “uncaring.” He would also make a point of bringing up Ted’s Canadian birth and try to make an issue out of it. Since Rubio is a bit softer spoken that Cruz, I think Carville would have a hard time doing the same with Rubio (although Rubio is currently struggling with his participation in the Gang of Eight so he may have some trouble holding the base).
Given all of this, I look for Carville to keep singing Ted’s praises right up to the moment he metaphorically tries to cut his throat.
Knowing Ted, I think it is extremely stupid to count him out. If Carville does, however, I think he’ll soon learn he underestimated Ted, who can campaign like a rock star. Other than the cheating and impeachment thing, Ted is very much like Carville’s own Bill Clinton. He loves the fight, works the room like no one else, and is totally relentless in meeting his goals.
James Carville should be very careful what he wishes for.