Ted Cruz Says President Obama Is an 'Unmitigated Socialist'

The Republican presidential candidate demolishes the “we need a governor, not a senator” meme.

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U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) speaks at a Conservative Business League of New Hampshire Rally March 27, 2015 in Merrimack, New Hampshire.

Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images

After Texas Senator Ted Cruz addressed the First in the Nation summit in Nashua, New Hampshire, on Saturdayhe headed to a basement conference room for a conversation with young Republicans. There was no filming of the speech, but reporters were allowed to sit in as Cruz fielded questions about Iran, millennials, and his own fitness for president. When one audience member asked Cruz what executive experience he could bring to the job, Cruz lambasted the “greybeards” in Washington for coming up with the “senator versus governor” framework in the first place.

“Obama is not a disaster because he was a senator,” said Cruz. “Obama is a disaster because he’s an unmitigated socialist, what he believes is profoundly dangerous, and he’s undermined the Constitution and the role of America in the world.”

According to Cruz, the only reason that pundits were saying the GOP needed to run a governor, not a senator, was that “most of the establishment moderates” in the field were governors. “In 1980, the strong conservative running in the race was Ronald Reagan,” Cruz said. “You didn’t hear ‘we need a governor’ then, because he was a governor. So none of those voices said, ‘We need a governor.’ They said, ‘You know what? We need a former congressman, named George Herbert Walker Bush. Likewise, in 2008, the moderate choice was a senator, John McCain. Go back and look at the TV discussions to find any of these voices going on television, saying ‘we need a governor’ in 2008. Then, the choice of those voices was that candidate, so that argument didn’t get used.”

It was a tough argument to disprove, and the student who asked the question didn't even try. Just a few hours earlier, pollster Frank Luntz had asked the summit's breakfast attendees if they wanted to run a governor or a senator in 2016. By a nearly 10-1 margin, they went for the theoretical governor. In other elections, like 2008, candidates coming off the bench from governor's offices ran on their executive experience, and newspapers cited that in endorsing them. Yet who had the time to comb through the cable news segments and calculate how often the argument had been used? It certainly felt like “we need a governor” had become a meme in 2016 like in no other year. And Cruz was simply rejecting it.

Cruz's whole answer:

We hear a lot of talk today about a governor or a senator. Now, I would note, for those with some historical recall, that it’s proven a convenient argument. That is an argument that gets echoed by a lot of the Washington establishment. In prior elections; for example, in 1980, the strong conservative running in the race was Ronald Reagan. You didn’t hear ‘we need a governor’ then, because he was a governor. So none of those voices said, ‘We need a governor.’ They said, ‘You know what? We need a former congressman, named George Herbert Walker Bush. Likewise, in 2008, the moderate choice was a senator, John McCain. Go back and look at the TV discussions to find any of these voices going on television, saying ‘we need a governor’ in 2008. Then, the choice of those voices was that candidate, so that argument didn’t get used.

In this race, most of the establishment moderates are coming from the ranks of the governors. And so suddenly, every time you turn on Fox News, there’s some D.C. greybeard saying, ‘It’s got to be a governor! Got to be a governor. Those are the only choices imaginable!’ Here’s what history teaches us. About half of the presidents have been governors; half of them, senators. There have been good and bad presidents who were both. Jimmy Carter was a governor. He was a trainwreck. Obama is not a disaster because he was a senator. Obama is a disaster because he’s an unmitigated socialist, what he believes is profoundly dangerous, and he’s undermined the Constitution and the role of America in the world. I think the test we ought to apply is not what job title a person had. I think the test we ought to have is: Who has stood up and fought?

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