Cruz: Moderate Republican Won’t Win Presidency in 2016

Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas, speaks during an interview in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014.

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz says the Republican Party should learn from history that running a moderate candidate for president in 2016 won’t galvanize voters and “Hillary Clinton will be president.”

The Texas Republican, a favorite of Tea Party supporters, said on CNBC today that the party needs to find a conservative candidate who can get voters to turn out -- someone like former President Ronald Reagan.

“If Republicans run another candidate in the mold of a Bob Dole or a John McCain or a Mitt Romney, we will end up with the same result, which is millions of people will stay home on Election Day,” Cruz said. “And if we run another candidate like that, Hillary Clinton will be the next president.”

Cruz said the former Republican presidential candidates are all “decent men” and “patriots,” but they didn’t get voters to turn out the way Reagan did in 1980.

In the interview, Cruz discussed his view of what will happen if the Republican Party embraces a nominee such as former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. It echoed the comments this week of Missouri Senator Roy Blunt, vice chairman of the Republican Conference, who told Bloomberg News in an interview that Bush, 61, might represent the wrong direction for the party.

Bush ‘Fan’

Bush, the son of President George H.W. Bush and brother of President George W. Bush, is a favorite of many establishment Republicans who want to avoid nominating a less-seasoned candidate in 2016.

Cruz, asked about Bush on CNBC, said, “I like Jeb. I’m a fan of Jeb Bush’s.” Cruz said he would wait to see if Bush decides to run.

“The only way for Republicans to win, I believe, is to run a candidate who runs as a strong conservative with a positive, optimistic, hopeful message,” Cruz said.

Cruz drew parallels to the 1980 election in which Reagan defeated President Jimmy Carter, who had served one term. He said the U.S. economy is in a similar state of “stagnation” and that an “internationally naive foreign policy” by President Barack Obama has lead nations such as Russia and Iran to be “opening laughing at” and mocking the president.

“We need to learn from history,” Cruz said today. “We need to look to history for what works and what doesn’t.”

Government Shutdown

Cruz won much of the credit, or blame -- depending on observers’ personal views -- for the government funding standoff that led to a partial government shutdown in October 2013.

He is a staunch opponent the 2010 health-care law, which he and many other opponents had derisively referred to as “Obamacare.” The term has now been widely embraced, even by the president.

Fellow lawmakers are sometimes not so complimentary about Cruz. Arizona Republican Senator McCain referred to him as a “wacko bird” early in the session for Cruz’ treatment of Defense Secretary-nominee Chuck Hagel. Cruz and California Democrat Dianne Feinstein tussled when she bristled over what she viewed as his condescending treatment of her at a Judiciary Committee hearing.

Cruz said he is optimistic Republicans will retake control of the Senate, picking up the six seats necessary with at least a dozen seats that he said are competitive.

“What makes it hard to predict is six or seven of them are within a couple of points,” Cruz said. “If they all break right, we could win 10 or 11 seats, if they all break wrong, I mean there’s still a chance the Democrats hold on if every one of the close seats breaks the wrong way. And so at this point its all a turnout game.”

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.