Republicans will lose the 2016 presidential election if they nominate an "establishment" GOP candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz told Newsmax TV
In a candid and wide-ranging interview at Newsmax headquarters in Florida, Cruz predicted that a candidate in the mold of a Mitt Romney, John McCain, or Bob Dole will nearly guarantee that Democrat Hillary Clinton wins the White House.
"It will, in effect, be a third term for Barack Obama," the Texas Republican said in an exclusive interview with "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner.
Cruz, who in March became the first major Republican to declare his candidacy, said that if he were elected president, he would put an end to the domestic and foreign policies of President Obama, which he termed a "disaster."
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Cruz didn't single out any rival GOP hopefuls, but named the last three Republican general-election losers: Romney, McCain, and Dole, as examples of how to sideline millions of conservative voters who feel ignored.
"... all three are good, honorable, decent men. They're heroes, but what they did didn't work. And if we do it again, the same voters who stayed home in '08 and '12 will stay home in '16 and Hillary Clinton will be the next president," said Cruz.
This wasn't the first time Cruz used that cautionary trio in his presidential pitch.
In March, before he declared his intention to run, he said, "All of those are good men, those are decent men — but when you don’t stand and draw a clear distinction, when you don’t stand for principle, Democrats celebrate."
McCain responded at the time
that Cruz "can say what he wants to about me" but that Cruz "crossed a line" in his criticism of Dole, a combat veteran like McCain.
Cruz did not repeat the "stand on principle" line on Wednesday.
Sizing up a primary field that is expected to include the clear, early-establishment favorite — former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush — Cruz said, "There's a lot of people I like and respect who are running and are friends of mine, but I don't see a whole lot of candidates who are likely to mobilize or energize the millions of conservatives who've been staying home.
"And if we don't bring those voters back, we lose," he said.
Explaining his decision to run for president after just over two years in the Senate, Cruz said a "country in crisis" needs a dramatic course change and to get there, also needs a candidate who not only reawakens the conservative base but reconnects the country with its political identity "and get us back to the free-market principles and constitutional liberties the country was built on."
"America is fundamentally a center-right country," he said, "and if you look at the values I'm running on — live within your means, don't bankrupt our kids and grandkids, follow the Constitution — those are basic, common-sense. It's only in Washington, D.C., that those are considered radical or extreme."
Cruz said the left and its allies in the media will likewise paint any Republican presidential nominee as extreme, regardless of beliefs.
He paraphrased a line from the 1995 movie, "The Usual Suspects," in which a character says, "The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist."
"And I suggest there's a corollary — that the greatest trick the left ever played was to convince conservatives that America doesn't share our values," said Cruz.
He said the truth is largely the opposite: "We could go to any state in the union; we could go to the bluest state in the union, get a room of 100 people, Republicans, Democrats, independents, Libertarians, and most of them would agree with those common-sense propositions.
"That's what we've got to get back to," he said, "because it's what career politicians in Washington have forgotten is a basic value America was founded on."
Cruz said a conservative win in 2016 is also critical for undoing the damage wrought by Obama.
The Obama foreign policy, from Russia to the Middle East, has proven that "weakness is provocative," he said.
He said the Obama administration has a "bizarre political correctness" that goes so far that the president won't "utter the words 'radical Islamic terrorism.' We won't defeat radical Islamic terrorism until we're willing to acknowledge what it is we're fighting."
But, Cruz said, the "single biggest foreign policy threat facing this country is the threat of a nuclear Iran. This deal that President Obama is negotiating with Iran ... we're hearing echoes of Munich in 1938."
"If Iran acquires nuclear weapons, the odds are unacceptably high that they would use those nuclear weapons to murder millions of Americans or our allies."
Domestically, Cruz said, "The Obama economy is a disaster," with the U.S. labor force participation falling to lows not seen since the 1970s, squeezed by mandates in the president's signature healthcare overhaul that are pushing workers from full-time into part-time employment.
"It's not working," he said, "and people are ready to turn the page."
"This election is about the single mom waiting on tables. This election is about the steel worker trying to provide for his kid," Cruz continued. "This election is about the teenage immigrant like my dad, who, 58 years ago, came from Cuba. He couldn’t speak English and he washed dishes making 50 cents an hour. Those are the people who have been hammered. ... you've got African-American teenage unemployment at nearly 40 percent.
"The people who are hurt the most [in this economy] are those who are struggling to climb the economic ladder."
Asked why voters should trust him to do the heavy-lifting, he said the question of trust "comes up all the time."
"And that may be right at the heart of the question primary voters are going to ask of every candidate," he said.
His response to the issue of trust?
"You shouldn't trust me or any candidate," he said. "You should say to every candidate, show me. You say you believe these principles? Show me. When have you stood up and fought for them? When have you bled for them? And what have you accomplished? As the scriptures say, you shall know them by their fruits."
Cruz said that he has fought to advance the conservative position on virtually every critical policy or issue, from opposing Obamacare to championing religious liberty to confronting Iran. There is a "short list" of presidential hopefuls who can say the same, he said.
"Stand with the people, stand with courageous conservatives who want to turn our country around — that's what the primary voters are looking for," he said.
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