Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.) is the hottest commodity in Republican politics these days, winning rave reviews everywhere he goes on the I'm-not-announcing-anything-but-I-just-might-run-for-president tour.
Today, Cruz heads to New Hampshire to raise money for the state Republican Party. If history is any guide, the Granite State will pose the toughest test thus far for the Texas Republican's national ambitions.
Why? Because New Hampshire Republican primary voters have been traditionally disinclined to back southern candidates seeking their approval. In 2008, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee roared into New Hampshire after winning the Iowa caucuses only to finish a distant third. Eight years earlier, New Hampshire handed a stunning defeat to George W. Bush, then governor of Texas, at the hands of Sen. John McCain (Ariz.). While Rep. Ron Paul (Tex.) finished second in New Hampshire in the 2012 Republican primary, Paul was less a geographic-based candidate than a national movement built around his libertarian ideas. Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who ran as a more prototypical southern candidate, finished fifth and won less than 1 percent -- not a typo -- of the overall vote.
It's that history that Cruz will come up against not just today but if and when he becomes a candidate for the Republican nod in 2016. Dave Carney, a Republican consultant who lives in New Hampshire, surmised Cruz's challenge this way: "His message will work. Will his style work? Time will tell."
Any number of theories have been offered as to why southern Republican candidates don't run well in New Hampshire. As Carney alludes to, style is the most oft-cited reason. Huckabee and, to a lesser extent Bush, were open about how their religious beliefs influenced their political thinking, a posture that might not have sat well with an electorate that is less outwardly religious than those in places like Iowa or South Carolina. Pure geographic considerations may also play a role -- with people in the Northeast viewing the South through a somewhat exotic (and, therefore, not relatable) lens.
Cruz can't -- and certainly wouldn't -- change his Texas roots. Stylistically, he often comes across as more professional motivational speaker than politician. Cruz avoids speaking from behind a podium, choosing instead to stroll the stage with a wireless microphone. (Sidebar: When asking questions, Cruz is prosecutorial; he served as the Texas solicitor general before winning a Senate seat in 2012.)
How will that play in New Hampshire? Well, stylistically, Cruz has echoes of McCain -- a sort of mayor of New Hampshire after winning the 2000 and 2008 presidential primaries -- although the two men are not, um, close. And Cruz's hard-line fiscal conservatism should be a nice fit for the state too.
Today marks a first step for Cruz in a critical state in the presidential race. First impressions matter, and this is his first chance to make one in New Hampshire.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) proposed a "short-term" bill to avert a government shutdown.
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) said President Obama is getting "perilously close" to the impeachment standard.
The White House next month will hold a closed-door session on bisexual issues.
Former secretary of state Colin Powell criticized North Carolina's newly-passed voting laws.
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R) and former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe launched dueling ads in the governor's race.
"Clock Is Ticking for Recess, and for a Deficit Deal" -- Jonathan Weisman, New York Times
"City likely to pay for Filner’s exit" -- Craig Gustafson, U-T San Diego