Ted Cruz: Top of the Cuckoo’s Nest

lead_largeOne flew over the cuckoo’s nest [not the movie] is the best description of the Republican field of 2016 presidential candidates. It is the largest and most divided GOP field in over 40 years and Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.) has about the same odds of becoming the Republican presidential nominee as former Florida governor Jeb Bush.

Am I kidding? Not at all… After all, the conventional wisdom is that Bush is the Republican establishment standard-bearer, while Cruz, the wing-nut darling, a real conservative’s conservative, would be the hands on favorite in most GOP [wing-nut driven] primaries and he could actually win the nomination.

Remember the Republican Party has at least four wings. Don’t forget… during the last State of the Union, President Obama received five GOP responses. In 2016, one must assume that there will be four wings : establishment, tea party, social conservative and libertarian.

Obviously, the fight for the top spot in the establishment wing is crowded, with Christie, Bush, Rubio, and possibly Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker leading at the moment. The social-conservative wing, with Rick Santorum, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, Texas governor Rick Perry and Ben Carson are running close for control. The libertarian wing consists of Sen. Rand Paul. This leaves the tea party wing which is both relatively large and entirely crazy and several favorites vie for control: Sarah Palin and Ted Cruz.

We can’t forget the 2012 GOP race and the favorite flavor of the month; where every month a different wing-nut ruled the roost until Mitt Romney finally moved into first place. What that means in 2016 — particularly in the early primary process in places such as Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina — is that he Cruz will probably be able to win or run strong, strong enough to keep going even as the establishment and social-conservative candidates thin out. Cruz’s people are going to be for him no matter how much — or little — money he raises.

The trick for Cruz is to stay in the race long enough to be the preeminent figure of the tea party social-conservative wings.

So watch Cruz. The combination of his running room as the race’s one true tea party candidate, his debating and oratorical skills, and his willingness to always, on every issue, stake out the most conservative position make him a real threat.

The 10 candidates with the best chance of being the Republican candidate in 2016 are ranked below. The No. 1 candidate has the best shot as of today.

10. Mitt Romney. He has decided against running for president in 2016 but he could be drafted at the GOP convention in an attempt of the establishment to elect a potential roadblock to Hillary Clinton.

9. Huckabee. The former Arkansas governor is giving every indication he is running but in reality he is simply selling his new book and using a run for president as a way to increase book sales. He is a factor because of his strong following among social conservatives and was on top of the field in Iowa according to one poll.

8. (Tie) Rick Perry. Rick Perry is a favorite of the social conservatives and cannot be counted out as possible threat as a GOP candidate. He has started a PAC and is on the campaign trail.

8. (Tie) Sarah Palin. The wind-nut darling longs to rejoin the limelight and has recently hinted that she is interested in a presidential run. Sarah could be waiting in the wings if the wing-nut favorite, if Ted Cruz stumbles. But Sarah has to look over her shoulder at Michele Bachmann in the battle of queen of the GOP tea party.

7. Donald Trump. The Business magnet and billionaire has the money to run and he shown interest in making a 2016 run. He also will take issue if the leading candidate is not a certified wing-nut and he will see himself as the conservative savior of the party. His money makes him a threat if he wants to be a threat.

6. Chris Christie. Increasingly, it’s looking as if Christie missed his chance for president in 2012. The bridge gate scandal has scared off potential GOP money donors. In a new Rutgers-Eagleton poll, his favorable rating in New Jersey has dropped to 37 percent — after topping out at nearly 70 percent. And if he’s lost his home state appeal, he loses his perceived national appeal.

5. Rand Paul. The senator’s recent vaccine comments have hurt his libertarian appeal. Yes, there is a wing-nut segment of the GOP that likes the idea that he is taking on the “liberal media.” But there’s also a much bigger segment of the party that will looks at his vaccine flap at his death nail.

4. Rubio. Rubio suffered damage to his chances last year when he spoke in support of amnesty for immigrants. Now his path to the nomination is complicated by Bush’s all-but-announced candidacy. But if the GOP Republican candidate is looking for a running mate to court the Hispanic vote, expand the party’s appeal, then Rubio could be the VP candidate in the race.

3. Walker. The Wisconsin governor is clearly in a strong position, thanks to his harsh attack on labor and his recent strong speech at an Iowa confab a few weekends ago. His decisions not to answer questions in London during a trade mission were damaging and not a good sign of his ability to act of the large stage.

2. Bush. The former Florida governor remains the top GOP establishment candidate but that may also lead to his undoing, can he win the series of wing-nut primaries? His recent attempts to appear wing-nut to cater to the conservative base may hurt him with main stream appeal with independent national voters. He got a big break when Mitt Romney opted not to run. Bush is the obvious choice for GOP establishment types [big donors]. Is Bush fatigue an issue?

1.Cruz. See above. His colleagues — Democrats and Republicans — in the Senate, share mutual contempt for him and he embarrasses and angers his party every chance he gets. But he is closer to how the GOP base feels on most issues than any other candidate and this makes him extremely dangerous. In a year of GOP division, beware of the great divider – Ted Cruz.

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