On the Ground in Iowa With the Cruz Camp

By Jason Scott Jones Published on February 2, 2016

I have been on the ground in Iowa campaigning for Senator Ted Cruz as one of his supporters. On the night of his victory in the Iowa caucuses, I decided to circulate the room, asking prominent Cruz backers why they supported the Texas senator. Here are two of those conversations.

Matthew Krause, State Representative, 93rd District of Texas

1. There are a number of solid pro-life candidates in the race today. Pundits assert that some of them, especially Marco Rubio, are more likely electable in the general — and they suggest that rallying behind Sen. Cruz is too risky, given how much is at stake, for instance with Supreme Court appointments. What do you think?

KrauseThat’s the conventional wisdom, but if you actually look at the polls, Cruz always does pretty well. He has come in second or first in likeability surveys, consistently. Remember that they used to say the same thing about Ronald Reagan — that he was too extreme to be electable. But once a conservative who speaks with authority gains the nomination, you’ll see that this isn’t true. I met Cruz for the first time in 2008 in his office for 2 to 3 hours. I thought he was one of the most impressive men I’d ever met. I found him affable and jovial, and saw that he makes fun of himself. I think he has all the assets of a good statesman.

2. Some evangelicals have accused Sen. Cruz of practicing “Christian identity politics,” and trying to get Christians to vote as an interest group, instead of as a citizens. Do you think that’s true?

There has been a powerful movement pressuring us as Christian citizens to bifurcate our lives into purely religious and purely secular realms. People tell me that I can’t consult my religious values when I form my political views. But that’s just wrong. Senator Cruz is simply saying that we’re not forbidden to consider a candidate’s faith and moral values when choosing a leader for a position, especially one that’s so critical as the presidency.

3. A number of prominent Christian leaders have rallied behind Donald Trump, comparing him to Ronald Reagan, as someone who might not be all that devout, but who has the leadership to protect Christian interests and values. How do you respond to that?

I’m disappointed. If you look at the entire GOP primary field, Cruz articulates the values of Christians with a genuineness that stands out. I would hope that all evangelical leaders come to the same conclusion. I think we have a unique opportunity here. If you compare the candidates, Cruz combines the ability to fund raise and to build an infrastructure with consistent conservative principles that could carry us to the White House. I think that if you were going to ever insist on a candidate who shared your principles, this would be the time to do it.

4. Do you fear for the religious liberty of Christians in America? If so, how does that shape your decision on whom to support this year?

The preservation of religious liberty is a huge factor affecting my decision whom to support. We see people across the country being forced by the government to choose between violating their consciences and losing their livelihoods. That’s especially outrageous here in America, where freedom of faith is the first freedom, the sacred foundation on which all the rest of our rights are built. I think it’s essential we choose a strong leader who puts those principles first.

Ken Cuccinelli, GOP Nominee for Governor of Virginia, 2013

1. On foreign policy, how would you contrast Sen. Cruz’s positions with Sen Marco Rubio’s?

Ken Cuccinelli by Gage Skidmore.jpg

Photo by Gage Skidmore

I appreciate Cruz’s approach to foreign policy because it does put America first. It considers the most appropriate policy long-term, consistent with preserving our military force for where it’s needed. Look at the contrast on Libya, where Sen. Rubio was enthusiastic about going all-out to remove Qaddafi — a loathsome individual, to be sure. But we saw how that turned out. We created chaos and cleared the space for ISIS. I think that Sen. Cruz’s more cautious approach has proved to be correct. We need to keep that in mind when we’re talking about what to do in Syria.

2. Do you feel comfortable with the idea of the U.S. confronting Russia and using military force to topple Assad and install “moderate” Islamists in power, as Sen. Rubio favors? What do Syrian Christian leaders think of such an outcome?

I am no fan of Assad, as I was no fan of Qaddafi, but given the options available it would very naive to topple Assad in the hope that something better would come along. That’s exactly what we did in Libya. I think that Syria’s Christians are wise to be very worried about that. We can start the ball rolling, but we can’t control who would end up on top in Syria, if it even remains a unified country at all. It might well fragment into a number of lawless areas with no centralized authority, which is a recipe for a humanitarian disaster. Sen. Rubio is quite wrong in his attempt to meddle around the world.

3. Many of the leading lights of GOP foreign policy under President George W. Bush have signed on with Sen. Rubio, citing his dedication to promoting American values worldwide. What’s your response to that?

The George W. Bush team had a coherent strategy and a hopeful philosophy which they pursued, and history has proved that it’s a failure. If we’re not willing to admit that we failed, then we’re doomed to commit the same errors again at the same cost in blood and treasure. I can tell you who Rubio’s national security team would be: it would be George W. Bush’s team. We might as well elect the genuine article, Jeb Bush, if that’s what we wanted. But we should elect neither of those candidates, since that’s recipe for further foreign policy disaster.

4. We hear a lot about the GOP establishment — people who according to your supporters didn’t give you the support you needed in your last Virginia race. Why has that establishment become the whipping boy of the Republican electorate?

The grassroots is rejecting the establishment because the establishment has shown us, over and over again, that its members believe in nothing but their own advancement, power and enrichment. The fact that they happen to affiliate as Republicans is almost irrelevant, since what drives them is accumulating wealth and power for themselves and their friends. If you believe we’re a country grounded on natural law, that demands a commitment to principles. The GOP establishment viciously opposes anyone, such as Senator Cruz, who holds up such a measuring stick, since they themselves don’t measure up. The grassroots is right. If we continue on the same establishment track, we’re going to spend America into oblivion. We won’t be able to care for the poor or defend our interests. We’ll become just another mediocre country. That is why we need to reject the establishment candidates, and go with someone with deep-seated principles, on the model of Ronald Reagan. This year, that candidate is Ted Cruz.

5. Does Donald Trump represent a real challenge to that establishment?

I think that Donald Trump is an irritant to the establishment, since they didn’t create him and don’t control him. But he does not represent a new way of doing business. Trump has made it clear through numerous statements that he is willing — even eager — to work with the establishment, to dive into their deal-making style of governance. That’s what we need to end, not what we need to install in the White House.

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