[Rushtalk] Inside the GOP’s rescue mission for Ted Cruz

Carl Spitzer {C Juno} cwsiv at juno.com
Thu Sep 20 20:38:23 MDT 2018

Inside the GOP’s rescue mission for Ted Cruz 

The national party wasn't expecting to have to defend a well-known
senator in a conservative bastion.


09/09/2018 05:57 PM EDT

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With recent polls showing GOP Sen. Ted Cruz’s lead slipping in his race
for reelection, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick showed up in Washington on
July 25 to deliver an urgent plea to White House officials: Send
President Donald Trump.

Patrick, who chaired Trump’s 2016 campaign in the state, made the case
that a Trump visit was needed to boost turnout for Cruz and the rest of
the Texas Republican ticket. The lieutenant governor soon got his wish:
Trump announced on Twitter late last month that he was planning a
blowout October rally for Cruz, his former GOP rival.

Story Continued Below

The previously unreported meeting comes as senior Republicans grow
increasingly concerned about the senator’s prospects in the reliably red
state, with some expressing fear that an underperformance could threaten
GOP candidates running further down the ballot. Cruz’s Democratic
opponent, Rep. Beto O’Rourke, has raised barrels of cash, closed the
polling gap and emerged as a cause célèbre of liberals nationwide.

Trump’s rally is just the most public display of a Republican cavalry
rushing to the senator’s aid. Cruz remains a favorite to win another
term, and some senior GOP figures insist the concern is overblown. Yet
the party — which has had a fraught relationship with the
anti-establishment Texas senator over the years — is suddenly leaving
little to chance. Behind the scenes, the White House, party leaders and
conservative outside groups have begun plotting a full-fledged effort to
bolster Cruz.

Texas Sen. John Cornyn, who’s planning an October fundraiser for Cruz at
Washington’s Capital Grille restaurant, said he had a simple directive
to GOP givers.

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“We’re not bluffing, this is real, and it is a serious threat,” Cornyn,
the No. 2 Senate Republican, said in an interview. “If Ted does his job
and we do ours, I think we’ll be fine. But if we have donors sitting on
the sidelines thinking that, ‘Well, this isn’t all that serious,’ or ‘I
don’t need to be concerned,’ then that’s a problem.”

The push reflects a broader anxiety within the party about the electoral
environment this fall. It also has practical implications for the GOP:
The resources devoted to Cruz include money that could otherwise be used
to oust vulnerable incumbent Democrats in red states like North Dakota,
Indiana and Missouri.

With O’Rourke outraising Cruz more than 2-to-1 during the past quarter,
right-leaning organizations have begun sending resources to the state.
The anti-tax Club for Growth, which spent millions on Cruz during his
2012 Senate bid, has started a seven-figure advertising blitz aimed at
tearing down the Democratic congressman. The organization has begun
polling the race, and David McIntosh, the organization’s president,
recently traveled to Texas to meet with donors who could help fund the
barrage. More than $1 million has been raised so far, people close to
the group say.

A handful of other well-funded groups are considering joining the
effort, including the Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity, the Mitch
McConnell-aligned Senate Leadership Fund, the newly formed Senate Reform
Fund, and Ending Spending, which in the past has been bankrolled by
major GOP financiers including New York City investor Paul Singer. Some
of the groups have been in touch with one another as they weigh their
next moves and try to determine how much their help is needed.

“I think there will be a lot of money,” said Doug Deason, a Dallas
investor and prominent GOP giver who met with McIntosh.

Cruz, who aggressively wooed evangelicals during his 2016 presidential
campaign, is taking steps to stir interest among conservative groups. He
recently attended a Beltway meeting of the Conservative Action Project,
a secretive gathering of movement leaders, where he issued a call to
arms to prevent a Democratic coup in his state. 

They are responding in kind. On Thursday, the Senate Conservatives Fund
sent an email to supporters asking them to finance Cruz. The Family
Research Council is planning an October bus tour through Texas. And this
week, Tea Party Patriots is expected to start a phone, text and mail
campaign bolstering the senator.

“Texas is one of our top priority states,” said Jenny Beth Martin, the
Tea Party Patriots co-founder. “We want to help Ted Cruz be reelected to
the Senate because he’s championed our priorities on Capitol Hill.”

The senator, meanwhile, is relying on the big donor network that fueled
his presidential bid. He’s been reaching out to major givers via text
message and recently has been in touch with Bekah Mercer, the reclusive
conservative megadonor whose father was a primary financier of Cruz’s
presidential bid.

Sen. Ted Cruz

‘The race has tightened’: Cruz allies sound alarm about Texas Senate


Lee Roy Mitchell, a founder of the Cinemark movie theater chain, is
among those concerned that major donors aren't taking the senator's
reelection race seriously enough.

“We’re solidly behind the senator, and I would like to think most Texans
are. I believe they are,” said the Dallas-based Mitchell, an active
member of the Koch political network who, with his wife, Tandy, has
donated a total of $1 million to a pro-Cruz super PAC. “But there’s a
tremendous amount of [Democratic] money being poured in here to change
people’s opinions.”

After antagonizing the K Street set early in his Senate career, Cruz is
courting it as he attempts to fill his coffers. Cruz has been regularly
inviting high-powered lobbyists to dinners at Capital Grille and other
Washington restaurants. 

He’s been candid during the sit-downs about the threat he’s facing for
reelection, those who’ve met with him say.

Cruz has filled his calendar with fundraisers, including at least three
scheduled this week. And he’s turned to veteran Washington players like
Wayne Berman, who’s hosted several fundraising events for the Texas
senator. Berman, who sits on the board of the influential Republican
Jewish Coalition, has also reached out to would-be givers from the
pro-Israel and financial industries.

“Cruz has made a concerted effort over the last year and a half to
listen and work with many of us around town,” said U.S. Chamber of
Commerce chief political strategist Scott Reed, who attended a Cruz
fundraiser last week.

Cruz is also turning to an old foe: Trump.

The senator and the president have gotten over their nasty 2016 rivalry,
when Cruz called Trump a “sniveling coward” and pointedly refused to
endorse him onstage at the Republican National Convention; Trump dubbed
Cruz “Lyin’ Ted” and linked Cruz’s father to JFK’s assassination. 

Former President Barack Obama

Obama rallies California Dems as GOP licks its chops


Now, Cruz is leaning on the president to turn out voters with the
planned October rally. The president’s son Donald Trump Jr. is expected
to host multiple events for the senator in the Houston area on Oct. 3.

Trump, aides say, was eager to help. The president personally drafted
the tweet in which he announced the rally, which he wrote would be held
in “the biggest stadium in Texas we can find.” 

Since the 2016 race, Trump has repeatedly told Cruz that he’d like to
help him get reelected. Final plans for the event, party officials say,
are still being worked out. 

Administration officials are among those who’ve privately expressed
concern about the senator’s prospects. Those worries burst out into the
open over the weekend, when Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of
Management and Budget, told donors at a Republican National Committee
meeting that Cruz could lose, a person familiar with the remarks
confirmed. The closed-door remarks were first reported by The New York

The sight of national Republicans coming to Cruz's defense would have
been almost unthinkable a few years ago. After being elected in 2012,
Cruz clashed repeatedly with GOP leadership — he once took to the Senate
floor to call McConnell, the majority leader, a liar. But senior
Republicans are putting all that behind them.

Cornyn, who expects to hit the trail for Cruz in October, lavished
praise on his Texas colleague, saying that since the 2016 election he’d
become a “team player” who worked collaboratively with fellow senators.
In 2014, Cruz snubbed Cornyn, refusing to endorse the state’s senior
senator in his primary election.

“We’re all adults, and I’d like to think that we’re professionals,”
Cornyn said in the interview last week. “We understand what’s at stake.”


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