Sen. Ted Cruz’s recent remarks about Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign as a "run to the mushy middle" did not violate the "11th Commandment" —
thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican —
coined by President Ronald Reagan, according to author and conservative consultant Craig Shirley, who appeared Tuesday on "America’s Forum" on Newsmax TV.
"The 11th Commandment, when Reagan was referring to it, which came out of the 66th gubernatorial campaign in California, was about personal attacks — it wasn't about saying you disagree with another Republican about policy or politics or issues and things like that, but not to engage in personal attacks," Shirley said.
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"It was perfectly fine, in fact, encouraged that inside the Republican Party. There's a vigorous debate over the future of the party and what it stands for so.
"Sen. Cruz was entirely inbounds and his comments were a fair assessments of the problems of Romney in the past and a possible Romney campaign in the future."
Shirley characterized the Republican Party as historically "schizophrenic," housing two personalities, until the end of the second Reagan administration, when the GOP became "unified in its approach to governments in American society and economics and philosophy" and Reagan successfully recast the Republican Party into "a populist of ideology based on the individual, and based on localism or local control and not the federal government dictating to the states."
But following 9/11, President George W. Bush and his adviser, Karl Rove, redefined Reagan’s Republican Party, which had been organized around freedom. Bush and Rove reorganized it to focus on security. The division remains today, Shirley said.
"What has happened is that, with the outgrowth as we all know of the tea party, is that you have a Republican Party that is now back to where it was, which is of the tea party Reagan-esque populist freedom-based wing and then the establishment security, corporate big government Republicanism wing," he said. "That is where Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney occupy."
The tea party is occupied by people like Sen. Rand Paul and Sen. Ted Cruz, who mirror the "Reagan side," according to Shirley, resulting in a "titanic struggle" within the GOP.
If establishment heavyweights former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Romney both vie for the presidency in 2016, it could be an entree for a tea party Republican to wrest the nomination, Shirley said.
"When you have the two top heavyweights banging on each other, which is inevitable between Romney and Bush, it opens the door for a third candidate and that's entirely possible for the 2016 Republican nomination," he said.
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