Political Animal


April 22, 2013 12:43 PM The ‘16 Field

By Ed Kilgore

This graph from a Manu Raju article at Politico on Ted Cruz’ potential Leader of the Opposition role on immigration reform sure got my attention this morning:

“Every leading GOP 2016-er is supporting comprehensive immigration reform,” said one Texas Republican source who knows Cruz well and asked not to be identified. “The worst secret in D.C. is Cruz is going to run for president, and he’s going to lean in hard against immigration to separate himself from all other 2016-ers.”

Oh brother. We’ve all been led to believe the 2012 Republican presidential field’s zaniness was an aberration mainly caused by the unwillingness of the Great Big Adults of the GOP to take on an incumbent president. But look at how the early field for ‘16 is beginning the shape up. The “moderate” is Marco Rubio, the Tea Party darling who called Jim DeMint his “best friend” (other than his wife). The “centrist” is Rand Paul. And holding down the dominant conservative pole position is Ted Cruz.

Yeah, there are other potential candidates like Jeb Bush, who reappeared in public recently with a book on immigration policy that was distinctly to the right of where Rubio has landed. Some still see Chris Christie or Bob McDonnell as lively possibilities, but only after they perform the Romney Crawl to the right to become acceptable to the conservative movement. Bobby Jindal is not looking all that good at the moment. Obviously a lot could happen over the next couple of years before the ‘16 competition gets serious. But the fact that Rubio, Paul and Cruz are presently the hot items is a pretty serious indication that there won’t be some automatic “move to the center” for the GOP in 2016, and in fact, the pressure could continue to be in the opposite direction.

UPDATE: Those scoffing at the idea that the GOP is continuing to move to the Right should check out the letter from Rand Paul—up until now generally counted as a staunch ally of Marco Rubio in supporting comprehensive immigration reform—to Harry Reid demanding a slowdown of immigration legislation until the “national security” issues raised by the Boston bombing can be addressed.

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.


  • Marvin on April 22, 2013 12:54 PM:

    If Cruz tapped, say, Nikki Haley to be his running mate, we could test once and for all the theory that all the GOP needs is a new messenger for the same old message.

  • gdb on April 22, 2013 12:54 PM:

    And for the Dems for Prez in 2016, we have... Clinton as the one known factor?? Better than the opposition, but more of the same semi-disaster on economic and big-business policies that have characterized the milk-toastian policies of BHO. Who has heavily employed Clintonian advisors.

  • Bob M on April 22, 2013 12:57 PM:

    How can Ted Cruz run for President if he was born in Calgary, Alberta?

  • Peter M on April 22, 2013 12:59 PM:

    He'll forge his birth certificate, @Bob M, of course!

  • Joe Friday on April 22, 2013 1:01 PM:

    "The worst secret in D.C. is Cruz is going to run for president, and he's going to lean in hard against immigration to separate himself from all other 2016-ers."

    Since that would obviously sweep him to victory in the Republican presidential primary, and then go down like a flaming fireball in the general election, it sounds like a plan to me.

  • stevio on April 22, 2013 1:08 PM:

    "The worst secret in D.C. is Cruz is going to run for president, and he's going to lean in hard against immigration to separate himself from all other 2016-ers."

    Wow. Pop some corn, turn up the volume and let's smile from ear to ear. That would be way too cool. Oh, the humanity....

  • Ron Byers on April 22, 2013 1:09 PM:

    Democratic chances for every national election in the next 50 years look better and better all the time.

    When are the Republican politicans wasting their time playing to angry old white men going to realize they are running out of angry old white men?

  • PeakVT on April 22, 2013 1:18 PM:

    Please, stop talking about 2016. It's early 2013. Linking to Politiho doing 2016 speculation just encourages our already crappy media to write more filler and do less original reporting.

  • c u n d gulag on April 22, 2013 1:24 PM:

    Well, of course, Ted "Ship Of Fools" Cruz, is gonna run!!!

    You don't waste all of that ignorance and egomania on one state, even if it's Texas, and its a huge state full of fellow ignorant ecomaniacs.

    I still can't believe that this country has devolved to the point where Authoritarian loons like him, and "Libertarian" nuts like Rand, and others of that ilk, are considered to be legitimate Presidential candidates for one party, and not people who are kept in their families basement or attic, for fear of them shaming the clan.

    And the scarier thought it, it's not outside the realm of possibility, that Cruz might win.
    He'll already start with a base of 27% of the voters, who won't be screaming to see HIS Birth Certificate, because, even if he's a Hispanic, and born in Canada, he's obviously a member of their tribe.

    Even Rubio scares me less.
    That boy's dim, but I don't think he's overtly evil, like Cruz.

  • gdb on April 22, 2013 1:42 PM:

    If the economy goes south or remains stagnant (more likely than not), any of these guys will be strong contenders against opposition weakly advocating "more of the same". Y'all have forgotten 80 years of history. Being repeated by Hungarians as this blog is typed. And possibly soon to be repeated by Greeks and Cypriots.

  • jpeckjr on April 22, 2013 1:59 PM:

    What change in immigration law would have prevented the brothers Tsarnaev from coming to the US with their parents when they were minors? What change in immigration law would have forbidden them from becoming US citizens? What pyschological or patriotism screening process administered to them 9 or 10 years ago when they arrived in the US would have shown they were planning to bomb the Boston Marathon in 2013?

    If such a screening had been applied to Ted Cruz when he immigrated from Canada, showing he would become an angry extremist capable of disruptive behavior in public, would he be a US Senator today? Or would he be living in Calgary, prohibited from entering the US?

  • Sgt. Gym Bunny on April 22, 2013 2:07 PM:

    I, too, think it's a bit early to speculate about '16. But, FWIW, I'm willing to bet that when Mitt conceded defeat last November, many a GOP darling started Campaign '16 preparations in earnest.

    Now that Obama will be out of the way, the GOP will definitely bring out the Real-Deal Krazy. 2016 will be their year to really show ass and try to validate 8 years of batshit wingnuttery. I forecast the GOP will get bolder and bolder as Obama's term closes. (Heaven forbid they actually win in Nov 16. Obama may as well not even show up for his lame duck session...)

    But if I were optimistic, I'd speculate that the absence of the EvilKenyanNaziSocialistReverseRacistAffirmativeActionIslamicAntiChrist might actually get the GOP to turn the dial down on the crazy. Most of the vitriol from the Far, Far Right is in response to Obama's perceived otherness, and our less evolved low- and no-info voters have no qualms about embracing the uglier side of politics.

    I'd like to hope that Obama's absence will get the GOP to argue the actual policies rather than the surrogate fictional character they've created. Not that they will. They won't. They blamed the recession on Obama before he even took his first oath... Ergo, why the hell I'm even claiming optimism??? Hunkering down for Crazy-geddon '16...

  • low-tech cyclist on April 22, 2013 2:26 PM:

    Given that Obama will be lucky to fill the available Circuit Court vacancies, let alone pass real legislation, we might as well talk about 2016 because what else is there to do?

    With any luck, we'll be tired of talking about 2016 by early next year, in time to gear up for the midterms.

    Besides, on the GOP side, it's gonna be Rubio. Rand Paul will win the "guy whose turn it is next time" consolation prize.

  • T2 on April 22, 2013 2:26 PM:

    Debates featuring Cruz vs. Clinton would be nice....two lawyers about as far apart politically as you can get. Cruz vs. Biden would be a replay of Ryan vs. Biden.
    @Bob M......none of that "not a citizen" stuff matters on the GOP side, only on the Dem side, and then probably only with black guys.

  • gdb on April 22, 2013 3:01 PM:

    Clinton is too easy to appropriately demonize... she has LOTS of baggage (or is 2008 down the collective Dem memory hole). You should start supporting politicians like Brian Schweitzer, ex gov of Montana. Dems need a makeover almost as badly as Repubs.

  • JR on April 22, 2013 4:11 PM:

    Ever since Turd Cruz blessed us with his sanctimonious bloviating in the Hagel hearings, after being senato for about a minute, I've tagged him to overshadow Rubio in the '16 race. We'll hear the usual crap - Obama rushed in, too.

    That said, underestimate Cruz at your peril... The man may be blowhard, but he's not an idiot.

  • Joe Friday on April 22, 2013 5:47 PM:


    "Clinton is too easy to appropriately demonize... she has LOTS of baggage"

    That's what was said in 2008, and that the ReThugs would be less likely to demonize Obama. How's that goin' again ?

    The RightWing will throw everything including the kitchen sink at whoever the Dem candidate turns out to be, and having the highest approval ratings by a very wide margin of any politician in the country ain't nothin' to sneeze at.

  • colby on April 22, 2013 11:17 PM:

    All the attacks on Clinton have been priced into the stock, though. Think about it- what can a Republican possibly say about her that won't sound like poorly-reheated leftovers from 1999?

  • smartalek on April 23, 2013 12:17 AM:

    What Joe Friday said, yes, absolutely, and in spades (as it were).
    Don't forget that *every* Dem Presidential candidate who's ever been a sitting Senator has been described by the Publicans and their media mouthpieces as "the most liberal Senator" -- including at least two (and I think for a time it was three) of them simultaneously.
    That this is a mathematical impossibility does not cause them, or their followers, any hesitation, doubt, discomfort, or shame -- and serves to demonstrate that they have all fully internalized the principles of DoubleThink as articulated by Mr Orwell so many years ago.
    That a significant fraction of Americans have willfully chosen this political posture, and the mindset underlying it, is far more terrifying than any of the specific policies they espouse (especially since those are so mutable, depending on what our President does from day to day).

  • mb on April 23, 2013 12:45 AM:

    Cruz, I believe, cannot run.

    Rubio's star is falling fast as immigration reform becomes less and less likely.

    Jindal, Haley, Ben Carson -- all meh-iffic.

    I think the GOP will want to do what it has always done -- give it to the next white guy in line. So who is that? Jeb? Newt? Pope Santorum? Doesn't seem to me that there is an obvious "next guy." FWIW, I don't think it is Rand Paul's turn -- or that it ever will be -- at least in the GOP. It could be another very interesting (read: good for Dems) primary contest season brewing for the GOP in 2016. Personally, I hope they have many, many, many debates with lots of audience participation.