Sen. Ted Cruz is in New York City paying visits to some of the nation's most powerful Jewish leaders — including a private two-hour session with billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson, the largest donor to Republican causes during the 2012 presidential election — to dispel any concerns about Cruz's politics and electability.
The Texas Republican, a likely candidate for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, sat by Adelson during Sunday night's Zionist Organization of America dinner, which featured Cruz in a prominent speaking role, reports The New York Observer
On Monday, after Cruz and Adelson met privately, a source close to the Venetian casino magnate told the Observer that while he likes Cruz, he also believes he is "too right wing" and is likely to be a long shot for the nomination.
Adelson bristled at the characterization, however, telling the newspaper he was "the only one in a position to know how he felt" about Cruz, the Observer wrote in an updated account.
In addition to Adelson, others attending the dinner on Sunday included attorney Alan Dershowitz, Pastor John Hagee, Home Depot founder Bernie Marcus, billionaire Ira Rennert and Rabbis Avi Weiss and Shmuley Boteach, among others.
Many of those attending said they found Cruz, a Princeton Law School graduate, well-spoken and engaging, the Observer reported.
Cruz is receiving some surprising invitations while in the Big Apple.
New York Daily News owner Mort Zuckerman, who usually backs moderate Democrats, hosted Cruz for a lunch before Sunday's ZOA dinner. Michael Steinhardt, who chaired the Democratic Leadership Council that helped elect President Bill Clinton, hosted Cruz at an event at his investment firm.
The private kosher lunch, co-hosted by Boteach, also included Perella Weinberg, hedge-fund manager Dan Arbess, NGN Capital's Ken Abramowitz, and Edward Turen of Control Equity Group.
And while many were skeptical going into the lunch, they nodded while Cruz discussed Israel
, which he ardently supports, and other topics, including his electability in 2016, according to the Observer.
Boteach said that he was concerned the media may caricature Cruz, to which the senator replied that historically the media pictures Republicans as "either stupid or evil."
"[Ronald] Reagan was stupid, according to the media. George W. Bush, Dan Quayle, stupid. [Richard] Nixon was evil, [Dick] Cheney was evil," Cruz said. "I sort of take it as a backhanded compliment that they've invented a new caricature for me — crazy. At the end of the day, that caricature doesn't trouble me because it's fundamentally false. The American people have a history of making up their own minds," the Observer reported.
Cruz, a tea party favorite, said he does not believe he's "all that conservative," and said Washington's divide is not between the parties, but between "career politicians in Washington of both parties and the American people."
He also said he expects Hillary Clinton to be the Democrat nominee, but she is "every bit as radical as [President Barack] Obama is," the Observer said.
But, Cruz told them, if a moderate like Chris Christie or Jeb Bush is nominated, "the same voters who stayed home in 2008 and 2012 will stay home again, and Hillary's the winner."
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