Ted Cruz Is Everywhere and Going Nowhere

The Texas Republican just insulted the Republican leaders of Congress. That doesn't work in presidential politics.

Bad news for Ted Cruz.

Photographer: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Here's even more evidence for why Ted Cruz is going nowhere as a presidential candidate.

This time, we see it in the aftermath of the Homeland Security shutdown showdown, which was hard to regard as anything but a complete loss for Republicans. As Todd Gillman of the Dallas Morning News reports, after demanding for months that Republicans hold DHS funding hostage until President Barack Obama relented on his executive actions on immigration, Cruz is now claiming he never supported that strategy and instead blames Republican “leadership in both houses” for the defeat.

Why does this matter?

First of all, parties want candidates who play well with others. After all, many people making that choice -- other politicians, governing professionals, interest-group leaders -- are going to have to live with that nominee in the Oval Office.

Does he or she keep promises? Negotiate honestly? Share credit for successes, and accept his or her share of blame for failures?  Think of those not as a test of character, but as practical questions about what their jobs will be like with this candidate as president.

Cruz fails that test every time.

True, politicians and others who need the party to win for them to succeed will put up with a lot if they are convinced a candidate is a winner. But Cruz loses these showdowns constantly. 

When it comes down to it, nominations are decided by people, and those who believe they have the most at stake -- personally as well as on policies -- often have the loudest voices. They pay extremely close attention to the candidates. They aren't like voters who tune in the week before a primary. They won’t forget incidents such as this one.

It’s easy to overrate the importance of Congress in nomination politics. There are plenty of examples of candidates who were popular inside the legislature -- Dick Gephardt, for example -- but failed to engage the party away from Capitol Hill, and others such as John Kennedy who were nominated despite a lack of enthusiasm from their colleagues. But a reputation for poor judgment and poor political skills? No presidential candidate can overcome that. No matter how avid a demagogue he might be.

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    To contact the author on this story:
    Jonathan Bernstein at jbernstein62@bloomberg.net

    To contact the editor on this story:
    Katy Roberts at kroberts29@bloomberg.net

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