Ted Cruz the Closer

by Joe Peyronnin Hofstra Journalism Professor 13.04.2016

Texas Senator Ted Cruz has run a very impressive campaign for the Republican presidential nomination. In fact, it is amazing to see he has done so well given his duplicity and polarizing nature.

Cruz has been shrewd in his approach to securing convention delegates, and he has displayed a keen understanding of each state’s rules for winning delegates. Current GOP front-runner Donald Trump exploded into a Twitter rage over the weekend after Cruz won all of Colorado’s 37 convention delegates. “The people of Colorado had their vote taken away from them by the phony politicians. Biggest story in politics. This will not be allowed!” Trump tweeted.

Trump has only himself to blame for being outmaneuvered by the man he refers to as “lying Ted.” The rules are the rules and they are well known to candidates who do their homework. Last August the Colorado Republican Party announced it would not let voters take part in the nomination process. At the time, the Denver Postreported, “The GOP executive committee has voted to cancel the traditional presidential preference poll after the national party changed its rules to require a state’s delegates to support the candidate that wins the caucus vote.” This begs the question, “If Trump can get out foxed in Colorado, how can he succeed in negotiations with China and Iran?”

Senator Cruz has carefully navigated the turbulent Republican nomination process to build the second largest collection of loyal delegates going into the convention. Once one of 17 GOP candidates running for the nomination, he has positioned himself well to be a viable alternative to Trump. Cruz kept his powder dry in the earlier primaries and caucuses, refusing to get caught up in the name calling and sniping that characterized much of the campaign. He was an outstanding college debater, but so far his debate performance during the primaries has been unremarkable.

Instead, he has focused on winning delegates with charm, wit and deceit. In the Iowa Caucus, the Cruz campaign adopted “social pressure” techniques to scare Republicans out to vote. It sent out mailers to likely voters with the heading “VOTER VIOLATION.” The mailer included threatening text, “Your individual voting history as well as your neighbors’ are public record. Their scores are published below, and many of them will see your score as well.” The Iowa Secretary of State later condemned this tactic, “Accusing citizens of Iowa of a ‘voting violation’ based on Iowa Caucus participation, or lack thereof, is false representation of an official act.”

Cruz was so determined to win in Iowa that as caucus goers were preparing to head to the polls his campaign sent them an urgent email blast. The email claimed that Dr. Ben Carson would be dropping out of the race and they should instead vote for Cruz. Of course, the email was a deliberate lie, but Cruz eked out an important first victory over the field.

Ted Cruz has been the great disrupter since he first entered the Senate following his victory in the 2012 election. He is very unpopular among other senators because of his brash and divisive polemics. He referred to other Republican senators as the “surrender caucus” because they did not sufficiently oppose President Barack Obama. Cruz accused his own Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of telling “a flat out lie” on the floor of the chamber. Cruz is single handedly responsible for the 2013 government shutdown by rallying gullible House Tea Party members against their leadership’s better judgment.

Fellow Senator John McCain has called Cruz a “wacko bird” and crazy. In February, Senator Lyndsey Graham, a former presidential candidate, said, “If you killed Ted Cruz on the floor of the Senate, and the trial was in the Senate, nobody would convict you.” Now, remarkably, Graham has joined those supporting Cruz as a way to keep Trump from winning the nomination outright. Their hope is that Trump will fail on the first ballot and some other candidate will emerge. But Cruz knows that, so he remains busy adding delegates using every trick in the book so he can be that some other candidate.

However, a word of caution to Cruz supporters, winning a party nomination is a lot different that winning the presidency. First, Cruz will have to unite a deeply divided convention, especially Trump delegates. Secondly, Cruz will have to moderate his extreme positions on everything from same sex marriage and abortion to immigration and “carpet bombing” ISIS. His economic plan is forecast to add trillions to the national debt by many economists, and will add thousands to the unemployment roles. His plan to eliminate the IRS is unrealistic and impractical. While he qualifies as a Latino, Cuban-Americans make up a small minority of the Hispanic population, which votes overwhelmingly Democratic. He will be challenged on his qualifications to run for president because he was born in Canada. His wife worked for Goldman Sachs, which is one reason Ron Paul observed in February, “He’s owned by Goldman Sachs. I mean he and Hillary (Clinton) have more in common.”

If Cruz makes it all the way to the White House, how will he unite his party? How will he persuade Democrats to work with him? How will his presidency bring an end to the gridlock on Capitol Hill? How will his emotive language and tough talk earn America more respect around the world? How will he bring Americans together? The simple answer is, he won’t.

You see, Ted Cruz loves to hear Ted Cruz talk. His animated motions, hands thrusting down to emphasize his points, underscores the passion he has for himself. He projects a carefully crafted point and often punctuates it with a wry smile of self-appreciation, as if to say, “I’m amazing.” He always speaks with the confidence of a man who believes he is the smartest person in the room.

Two years before he was elected the first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln reportedly said, “You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all the time.” I am not sure Ted Cruz would agree with that.

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Joe Peyronnin is an associate journalism professor at Hofstra University and an adjunct journalism professor at New York University. He also is an investor and adviser to new media companies. In 1999 he founded Telemundo Network News and led it as its Executive Vice President until 2006. There he created and launched several news programs, including Sin Fronteras, Noticiero Telemundo Fin De Semana, Enfoque, and A Rojo Vivo. He led Telemundo to its first national Emmy Award for its round the clock coverage of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Before Telemundo, he served as a media and communications consultant at Osgood, O'Donnell & Walsh. In 1995-96 he was President of Fox News, where he put together the core organization of what would become the Fox News Channel. Prior to that, Peyronnin served six years, 1989-1995, as Vice President and Assistant to the President CBS News, the division's number two executive, where he oversaw global newsgathering and news programming, including 60 Minutes, 48 Hours, The CBS Evening News, Sunday Morning and CBS This Morning. From 1987-89 Peyronnin served as CBS News Vice President and Washington Bureau Chief, the news organization's largest bureau. From 1979-86 he worked for The CBS Evening News as the senior Washington producer, and earlier a producer, where he regularly covered the White House, Congress, political conventions and national elections. He also covered major international assignments, including all US-Soviet summits, Economic summits, Israel's 1981 invasion of Lebanon, President Reagan's 1984 trip to China and a series of 1984 reports from inside the Soviet Union. Peyronnin began his career at CBS in 1970 as a local news producer and assignment editor in Chicago. He has received three journalism awards, including two Emmys. He appeared in 1994 edition of Who's Who in America, and, in 2011, he received an award from Llamba Pi Eta, the National Communications honorary society. Peyronnin is currently Executive Vice Chairman of the Mental Health Association of New York City board of directors, which honored him in 2004. He is Trustee at Gracie Square Hospital in New York City, and a former Trustee of Columbia College Chicago. He is a member of the Council of Foreign Relations. He holds an MBA degree from the Walter Heller School of Business at Roosevelt University, Chicago, and a BA from Columbia College Chicago. He lives in NYC with his wife and daughter.

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