Political Animal


February 20, 2013 1:01 PM Cruz Plays the Race Card

By Ed Kilgore

I didn’t intend to do more than one Ted Cruz post today, but then I saw this report from the Dallas Morning News’ Wayne Slater:

Sen. Ted Cruz says some of the attacks on fellow Republican Sen. Marco Rubio by Democrats are motivated by race. Cruz said today the fact that Rubio is a Republican Latino poses a threat to political adversaries. “I think Democrats and the media are afraid of Marco Rubio because he is a smart, intelligent, conservative Hispanic. And they are looking for any excuse they can to attack him, because that threatens them,” Cruz told reporters during a tour of a Texas gun manufacturing plant north of Austin. “Look, he took a drink of water in a speech. And it dominated the news for days with one network saying it was a career ender.”

Well, I can’t speak for “Democrats” or “the media” as a whole, but my own take on Rubio’s Republican Response to the State of the Union Address didn’t even mention the water bottle thing, and focused on how unoriginal his thinking was, particularly coming from someone receiving high hosannas as the Savior of the Republican Party. Far from being frightened by Rubio as some sort of “threat,” I’m puzzled that the guy keeps being compared to Ronald Reagan in terms of his communications skills.

Cruz probably thinks this playing of the race card could create some sympathy for Rubio in unlikely places, while of course providing chapter 3,000 in the Tea Party saga of “there are no racists except for liberals.” Besides, if the godless liberals are afraid of Rubio, just wait til they get a load of the junior Senator from Texas, a Cuban-American conservative who will say and do just about anything!

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • DTR on February 20, 2013 1:16 PM:

    Most of the media do not understand the implications of Rubio and Cruz being Cuban Americans. Their experience, history and culture differs a great deal from Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, Central Americans. Those particular groups represent the majority of Hispanics in the US and Cubans are generally seen as outside that group. The Republicans, in their race to ignorance and pandering, fail to get beyond the surface. Good with me - the less they understand about significant constituencies, the better for Democrats.

  • c u n d gulag on February 20, 2013 1:18 PM:

    Bold and shameless!

    Those are attributes in today's Republican Party - expecially the latter.

    I laughed a Rubio, because he was so obviously out of his element, considering the praise that's been heaped on him as some sort of Young Ronald Rubio Reagan.

    And then, that lunge for the bottle, made his look like a 12 year-old who has never been on stage before, in a JHS debate performance.

    Having said that, the lunge was the best thing he could have done, because after that, no one noticed how hiw whole speech was inane and insipid dogma, and the same-old, same-old Republican talking points.

    This fellow Cruz is a dangerous one.
    He's better watch it, that his ambition, recklessness, and shamelessness, don't trip him up - there's a point where too much, becomes WAY TOO MUCH! Not with his base, obviously - but with the rest of the voters.

  • boatboy_srq on February 20, 2013 1:36 PM:

    I think Democrats and the media are afraid of Marco Rubio because he is a smart, intelligent, conservative Hispanic.

    That look on all our faces, Sen. Cruz? It's not fear of a Conservatist Hispanic: it's incredulity at the seriousness with which Rubio - and all his followers - view that egocentric, spoiled Cuban wingnut. Anyone remotely acquainted with the "Hispanic" community - well, at least the part outside Little Havana - ought to be able to grasp that.

  • T2 on February 20, 2013 2:23 PM:

    Cruz is setting the table so that he can yell "racist" any time a democrat challenges him on anything. He may or may not get away with yelling " racist" at Obama, but I expect him to try.

  • Peter C on February 20, 2013 2:42 PM:

    The race card won't help Cruz if we can put Julian or Joaquin Castro in a position to run against him in 5 1/2 years. The other can run against Perry for Governor.

  • MuddyLee on February 20, 2013 2:45 PM:

    It's racist to attack Rubio - a disciple of Ayn Rand - who is lying about the President's view of the private sector? What race was Ayn Rand? And what race is Jim DeMint, the man who made Ted Cruz a senator? This isn't about race - it's about craziness.

  • Registeredguest on February 20, 2013 3:22 PM:

    “I think Democrats and the media are afraid of Marco Rubio because he is a smart, intelligent, conservative Hispanic. And they are looking for any excuse they can to attack him, because that threatens them,” - Ted Cruz

    One thing you can say about conservatives is that they aren't very original or creative.

    It seems that we liberals were all afraid of Sarah Palin because she was smart, intelligent, and conservative and she was oh, so threatening.

  • biggerbox on February 20, 2013 3:31 PM:

    Cruz is mistaken about what we fear. It isn't a smart, intelligent, conservative Hispanic. (As opposed, I guess to a smart, stupid conservative Hispanic??)

    No, what we fear is a party that can promote as a serious contender someone capable of making a public speaking mistake that would be laughable in a high school debate class. Just like we worry about a party that can include a nutjob who holds up the confirmation of a Secretary of Defense because of something he read from Breitbart.

    Race has nothing to do with it. Stupid does.

  • Peter C on February 20, 2013 4:39 PM:

    I'm not really afraid of either Rubio or Cruz. Neither is very impressive. Both are wedded to a deeply unpopular political agenda and ensconced in a political party that has gone off the deep end.

    The Republicans have painted themselves into a corner where they will either hold to their misguided principles and cause real harm to the nation (again!) or give in and appear weak. I'm bracing myself for the harm; I think they'll shoot the hostage. But, when they do, it will be in front of the TV cameras, and that won't help their popularity. If they do, though, I swear, we'd better go for the jugular this time. I'm tired of 'face-saving options'. It's time for a clear narrative. 'Going along to get along' didn't work. The public needs a clean vote and we've got to put candidates up for every office so eveyone gets a say.

  • ceilidth on February 20, 2013 4:39 PM:

    Marco Rubio would be white if he lived in Cuba and he's white in the United States. Remember, even the census does not define the race of Hispanics. Ditto even more for Ted Cruz whose mother comes from an Irish/Italian background.

  • JR on February 20, 2013 6:33 PM:

    Let's not forget - Cruz is Cuban-Canadian-American.

    Peter C: We can hope but, from what I get from my family in San Antonio (where my nephew is very active in Democratic politics), we may need to be patient. At least right now, the sense is that, unlike Turd Cruz, the Castro brothers aren't in a hurry.

  • Crissa on February 21, 2013 2:48 AM:

    I need to ask: What does the water bottle thing have to do with racism?

    The water bottle showed him to be inept as well as a poor planner. Aren't these things we don't want in a leader?

  • cat on February 21, 2013 5:10 AM:

    I'm not impressed by Rubio. I think he whines a lot. Cruz is just Creepy. Race has nothing to do with either of those impressions.