... I do not live in Texas, and have not been following this race closely. I did tune in to Friday night's debate, however; based solely on the debate, here are my impressions of Ted Cruz:
1. Cruz was smoother and faster on his feet than Dewhurst, which one would expect from a courtroom attorney. However, I found his repeated references to "defending the Constitution" to be ironic, because he never analyzed any of the issues raised during the debate from a Constitutional perspective, when he certainly could have. For example...
2. Social Security - Cruz could have pointed out that Social Security is unconstitutional, and then transitioned into a plan to phase out the program over time. Instead, he spoke of needing to "save" Social Security by raising the retirement age, etc., leaving the impression that he wants to keep the program going in perpetuity. (There seemed to be no real difference between Cruz and Dewhurst on this issue; Cruz, in particular, sounded like Mitt Romney.)
3. Mideast wars - Again, Cruz could have affirmed that, as undeclared wars, Afghanistan and Iraq were per se unconstitutional. Not only did he decline to do that, he stated that he agreed with the decision to invade both Afghanistan and Iraq! Furthermore, while he opposed war with Syria as not being in our national interest, he seemed to conflate Israel's national interest with our own in saying that his position on Syria would change if the internal conflict were to spill over in a way that threatened Israel. While there was some distinction between Cruz and Dewhurst on these issues (Cruz indicated that we had stayed in Iraq for far too long, while Dewhurst faulted President Obama for pulling so completely out of Iraq), it seemed more a matter of degree, rather than of principle.
4. TSA - Cruz was negative toward TSA, but so was Dewhurst (and, probably, so are most Republicans at this point).
5. Endorsements - Cruz rattled off several "conservatives" who support him; the list of Texas endorsees did not include Ron Paul, while the list of national supporters (Sarah Palin, Sean Hannity(??), and Rick Santorum) did not include Rand Paul. The omissions struck me as deliberate rather than accidental, and I was particularly offended that he would include a talking head like Hannity over Rand Paul.
Conclusion: While Cruz repeatedly questioned the conservative credentials of Dewhurst (by launching allegations that Dewhurst always disputed), he never really distinguished himself substantively from Dewhurst on the issues. Instead, Cruz relied on a stylistic contrast: Dewhurst was too conciliatory and prone to work with Democrats, while Cruz would be reliably partisan and confrontational (Cruz didn't put it quite that way, but that was the import of his argument). To me, Cruz came across as a conventional, partisan "conservative" (think Allen West and Michele Bachmann) rather than as a principled, thoughtful Constitutionalist (like Ron Paul and Justin Amash). Going by the debate alone, I saw little reason to favor Cruz over Dewhurst, and even less reason for Liberty patriots to support Cruz with any enthusiasm.
I welcome the input of others who saw the debate, especially those from Texas who can place it within the larger context of the ongoing race. Thanks.
A Constitutional, Christian conservative who voted for Ron and stands with Rand
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