Initial Reactions to Ted Cruz for President Are Decidedly Mixed

The Texas senator's decision to run for president has elicited a range of opinions.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) (2nd L) speaks as Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) (R) and Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) (L) listen during a news conference September 9, 2014 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) (2nd L) speaks as Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) (R) and Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) (L) listen during a news conference September 9, 2014 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Ted Cruz is a polarizing figure in American politics. So it's no surprise that his pre-announcement of his 2016 presidential campaign was met Sunday with reactions ranging from gushing praise to outright disdain. 

Crazy for Cruz

The Tea Party seized on the news that Cruz will announce his candidacy Monday at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va. in an enthusiastic statement Sunday, praising Cruz for his departure from the typical presidential process and for not "monkeying around" before announcing. Cruz is skipping the exploratory committee phase of a pre-campaign, instead diving headfirst into an aggressive fundraising goal of between $40 and $50 million.

"The consultant playbook says that a presidential candidate must hint around for months," the Tea Party Nation statement says."That candidate must at first deny that but be 'persuaded.' There must be the obligatory leaks about the candidate's family and friends trying to talk them into the run."

That last bit reads like a specific dig at Jeb Bush, who, at the end of 2014 was the subject of much urging from his father and brother to run before announcing that he would "actively explore" a presidential bid.

Supportive to a point

Moving toward the middle of the reception spectrum, John McCain, the Republican Senator from Arizona who ran against President Barack Obama in 2008, said that he will support Cruz if he wins the nomination.

"He is a valued member of the Senate Armed Services Committee," McCain said on CNN's State of the Union on Sunday. "He and I are friendly and I think he is a very viable candidate."

McCain tempered that already lukewarm praise, saying that he wasn't endorsing Cruz and that South Carolina's Senator Lindsey Graham is still his pick for the Republican nomination, and that he "knows best about national security."

Neutral analysis 

On ABC's This Week on Sunday, National Public Radio's Steve Inskeep tried to put Cruz's motivations for running in context. 

"Well, I guess I'm not too surprised that he would go out early, because Ted Cruz is competing for the leadership of the purity wing of the Republican Party. And he suddenly has competition in the Senate from Tom Cotton, this new freshman Republican who has been making a lot of news," Inskeep said. "This is a way that Cruz can get back out in front of things. And it's really fascinating to me to watch the different approaches of different Republicans here, Martha. You do have someone like Cruz whose saying I'm the purist. And of course he's the purist of his version of Republicanism, but he says I'm the guy who is going to purify the Republican Party."

Cruz is Crazy

At the "absolutely not" end of the continuum is California's Democratic Governor Jerry Brown.

Appearing on NBC's Meet The Press on Sunday, Brown said that Cruz is "absolutely unfit to be running for office" because of his position on climate change.

Also in that camp is the progressive political action committee American Bridge 21st Century. 

“Ted Cruz has been running the Republican Party for years, driving extreme policies that put Tea Party politics ahead of middle class families,” said Ben Ray, spokesman for the Democratic opposition research organization said, adding that Cruz’s “run for President will do exactly what he’s done in the Senate: bring out the Tea Partier in every last Republican candidate.”

Not to be left out of the Cruz-bashing fun, the Democratic National Committee also issued a press release Sunday criticizing the Texas senator on a number of issues. 

“Fitting that Ted Cruz would be one of the first to jump into the Republican primary," DNC press secretary Holly Schulman said in the statement. "He led his party’s efforts to shut down the government in a personal crusade to take away quality health care from millions and to give control back to the insurance companies, and has been the embodiment of the Republican Party’s backwards policies that put millionaires and corporations first and the middle class last."

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