Politics and law have intertwined throughout Cruz’s rise. Before being appointed solicitor general, he’d been a staffer for Bush’s campaign, then part of the legal team in the Bush v. Gore case that sealed the election. In building a political career, he supplemented the appeal of his legal track record with tough, small-government rhetoric. He has said he wants to abolish the Commerce, Energy and Education departments (he’s made school choice a centerpiece cause), as well as the Transportation Security Administration. For much of the nation, Cruz’s victory in the Senate campaign was an introduction to a fresh new face of the conservative movement. Actually, he’d been there all along. They just hadn’t noticed.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) raised eyebrows with his sharp questioning of then-nominee for Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Jan. 31.
He was born in Canada to an American mother — so is he a “natural born” citizen?
Now you can’t miss him. There he is filibustering with Lee and Paul to pressure Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. to answer whether drones can be used to kill Americans on U.S. soil who aren’t involved in combat. (The answer was “no.”) There he is drawing a firm line in opposition to the bipartisan Senate “Gang of Eight” immigration proposal: not if it includes a path to citizenship for immigrants in the country.
Cruz’s immigration position has placed him on a possible collision course with the senator he’s most often measured against, that other young, tea-party-fueled, conservative Cuban American Republican, Marco Rubio of Florida. A Republican congressional aide who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of ongoing negotiations downplayed any possible friction between the ascendant senators, saying the two have met recently to discuss immigration proposals and have had productive talks. While Cruz is getting feted in South Carolina, Rubio (who headlined last year’s Silver Elephant Dinner) is having to fend off increasingly fierce right-wing barbs because of his outspoken support of the immigration proposal. Tacking to Rubio’s right on immigration might help Cruz’s standing in a Republican primary — if it were ever to get to that point — but hurt him in a general election.
During Cruz’s Senate campaign, Bolick urged friends to donate to the firebrand who had impressed him as a Supreme Court clerk. “Everyone’s reaction was, “Who is Ted Cruz?’ ” Bolick said. He recalls telling those friends that, if Cruz was elected, “you will never need to ask that question again.”
Bolick was right.
Ed O’Keefe contributed to this report.