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Ted Cruz Is No Fan of the Bushes

Albert R. Hunt is a Bloomberg View columnist. He was the executive editor of Bloomberg News, before which he was a reporter, bureau chief and executive Washington editor at the Wall Street Journal.
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Senator Ted Cruz, the most high-profile Texas Republican these days, wants to make it clear that Texas is no longer Bush country.

In an interview for the Charlie Rose PBS television show, Cruz said Florida Governor Jeb Bush's views "are not conservative positions." Citing immigration and education, Cruz said his rival for the 2016 presidential nomination has stances that "are in direct conflict with the views of most Republicans."

The freshman lawmaker, who is determined to dominate his party's right wing, fired his toughest salvo at Bush over the Supreme Court decision upholding same-sex marriage. Bush shrank from the fight and called for the country to "move on," Cruz said. "That was almost word for word what Barack Obama said." (Bush explicitly said he disagreed with the court decision; Obama favored it.)

Cruz, 44, also repeated his criticism of President George W. Bush's administration, despite having worked on Bush's campaign. In Cruz's new bestseller, "A Time for Truth," he faulted the administration for "bigger government and excessive spending and new entitlements."

Although a national security hawk, Cruz distanced himself from George W. Bush's foreign policy. He said neoconservatives, who were dominant in the first Bush administration, were "too eager to engage in military action." Cruz also dismissed Bush administration nation-building efforts. Any military action, he declared, should involve "overwhelming force," and then "we should get the heck out."

On Iran, however, Cruz expressed contempt for Obama's nuclear deal, which he said makes military action by the next president to eliminate Iranian nuclear facilities "more likely." Cruz left no doubt that, as president, he would do that.

Asked how he would differ from the Obama administration in dealing with Pakistan, Cruz seemed nonplussed. "In terms of areas where their foreign policy has caused enormous damage, Pakistan is relatively low on the list," he said. 

Cruz is unpopular among Senate colleagues and his presidential candidacy is dismissed by many in the party elite. That's probably a mistake. Cruz has proved himself an extraordinary fundraiser: Together, his campaign and allied groups reported $52 million in contributions so far. And Cruz maintains strong appeal to key constituencies on the party's right wing.

The Charlie Rose program interview will be rebroadcast tonight on Bloomberg Television.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

To contact the author on this story:
Albert R. Hunt at ahunt1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor on this story:
Francis Wilkinson at fwilkinson1@bloomberg.net