Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has been called everything from a “brave” man to “a fraud” by members of his own party.
But regardless of what his Republican colleagues think of him, political analyst Mike O’Neil told VOXXI one thing is clear: “He has made himself a very prominent figure.”
Most people, whether they like him or not, nowadays likely know who Cruz is in large part because of his continuous efforts to dismantle the Affordable Car Act, or the so-called Obamacare. And that’s a great achievement considering he has only been on the job as a senator for less than a year.
The tea party-backed freshman senator is perhaps best known for herding the GOP to bring up a temporary spending bill that includes provisions to either defund or delay the Affordable Care Act. The strategy was to pass that bill in the House, do the same in the Senate and ultimately coerce President Barack Obama to sign it.
But that strategy failed when the Democrat-controlled Senate rejected the bill and a much of the federal government shut down on Oct. 1.
Now, while some Republicans are standing by Cruz, others are growing frustrated with him. They are realizing he helped prompt the government to shut down without having a clear strategy to reopen it. And to make matters worse, several polls show most Americans blame the Republican Party for the government shutdown.
“I think there are more pragmatic voices inside the Republican caucus that are resentful of what he did to them, but I think they are currently intimidated from saying anything,” O’Neil told VOXXI.
King: Ted Cruz led the GOP down ‘a dead end’
One Republican congressman who isn’t staying quiet is Rep. Peter King of New York. He is speaking out against Sen. Ted Cruz and his strategy to use the spending bill as a leverage to dismantle the Affordable Care Act.
In an interview with CNN last week, he said Cruz “led the party down a dead end.”
“I said from the start this guy was a fraud, that he was laying out a strategy that has no strategy,” King said. “This was a dead end he was leading us into.”
King also recalled hearing Cruz tell Republicans several weeks ago that all they had to do was have the House approve a spending bill that included provisions to defund the Affordable Care Act. He said Cruz predicted both the Senate and Obama would “cave into it, and Obamacare would be defunded.”
“That was false and fraudulent from the start,” King insisted.
Still, he said about 30-40 Republicans believed it was possible, and they made promises over the summer to go along with Cruz’s strategy. As for House Speaker John Boehner, King said Boehner was against the strategy at first, but “he went along with it only to give them the opportunity in the House to see if it could be done.”
When King saw that it wasn’t going to be done, he urged other moderate House Republicans to join him in revolting against the party. King’s plan was to vote against any spending bill that included provisions to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, but he came up short of the 17 “no” votes he needed.
Ted Cruz in the middle of GOP civil war
Now that the government is shut down, Rep. Ted Cruz is in the middle of a civil war that is breaking out within the Republican Party.
Some Republicans are standing by Cruz and are blaming the Democrats and Obama for shutting down the government. Cruz’s strongest supporters are tea party members, like former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin who recently called Cruz a “brave” man for his efforts to defund Obamacare.
But others are angry with Cruz for helping prompt the government shutdown without having a clear strategy to end the crisis. In an interview with Fox News on Sunday, King went as far as saying that Republicans “are the ones who did shut the government down” because they followed Cruz’ strategy, which he said was “doomed to failure.”
Republican strategist Ana Navarro said in an interview with CNN last week that there’s clearly “a division right now in the Republican Party.” The division, she said, is particularly painful for Republicans like her but she doesn’t believe this is the end of the GOP.
“The pendulum will swing back,” she said.
In the meantime, Democratic strategists are already making plans to tie Cruz to all Republicans during the 2014 midterm elections in an attempt to scare off moderate voters, Time magazine reported this week.
“Die-hard Republicans will consider him their best surrogate, and we consider him our best surrogate too,” Democratic National Committee spokesman Mike Czin told Time magazine. “Wherever he goes now, I think he’s a political liability for all Republicans.”
O’Neil called the Democrats’ plan “a very good strategy.” But he added that whether it works or not depends on how the rest of government shutdown scenario plays out and who ends up taking the blame for it. But for now, he said: “People are tending to blame the Republicans more than the Democrats, and I can’t see that changing.”
This article originally appeared on VOXXI under the title "Republicans Divided Over What To Make Of Ted Cruz."
Ted Cruz (R-TX)
The Cuban-American conservative who's faced <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/01/ted-cruz-latino_n_2051960.html">offensive attacks against his Hispanic background</a> became the first Latino from Texas to hold a U.S. Senate seat.
Richard Carmona (D-Ariz.)
He waged a competitive campaign and mobilized an emerging Latino electorate, but the former surgeon general lost his Senate seat bid by <a href="http://blogs.phoenixnewtimes.com/valleyfever/2012/11/richard_carmona_fares_better_t.php">80,000 votes to Republican Jeff Flake.</a>
Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.)
Tucson's Raul Grijalva did not face much of a challenge from Republican challenger Gabriela Saucedo Mercer.
Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.)
Obama surrogate Xavier Becerra trounced his opponent, winning some 86 percent of the vote.
Tony Cardenas (D-Calif.)
The former Los Angeles City Councilman will <a href="http://www.voxxi.com/tony-cardenas-california-congressman/">take a seat in Congress</a>.
Grace Flores Napolitano (D-Calif.)
Incumbent Flores Napolitano retained her seat.
Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.)
The incumbent held her seat.
Gloria Negrete McLeod (D-Calif.)
<a href="http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2012/11/gloria-negrete-mcleod-bests-joe-baca-in-congressional-race.html">State Senator Gloria Negrete McLeod unseated</a> fellow Democrat Joe Baca.
Joe Baca (D-Calif.)
The incumbent won't have a seat in Congress next year after losing to State Senator Gloria Negrete McLeod.
Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.)
Sanchez will become a U.S. Representative.
Jose Hernandez (D-Calif.)
Former astronaut <a href="http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/49728894/ns/technology_and_science-space/#.UJrnuOOe8ho">Jose Hernandez came up with 46 percent</a> of the vote -- not enough to defeat his Republican challenger.
Abel Maldonado (R-Calif.)
California's Lt. Gov. Maldonado came up short in his bid to enter Congress.
Juan Vargas (D-Calif.)
The former state senator moved up a notch to the House of Representatives.
Joe Garcia (D-Fl.)
South Florida got a Cuban-American Democrat for U.S. Rep. when Garcia defeated incumbent conservative David Rivera.
David Rivera (R-FL)
Facing a campaign finance scandal, Rivera lost his congressional seat to fellow Cuban-American challenger Joe García.
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fl.)
The Cuban-American former chair of the House Foreign Relations Committee is back for another term.
Raul Labrador (R-Idaho)
Labrador's still representing Idaho voters in Congress.
Luis Gutierrez (D-Il.)
The immigration reform champion cruised to reelection.
Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M.)
The Democratic U.S. Representative cruised to an easy victory.
Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.)
Lujan Grisham has become <a href="http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Lujan-Grisham-elected-to-Congress-in-Albuquerque-4016276.php">Albuquerque's newest Congresswoman</a>.
Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.)
The New Mexico Democrat owes her seat in Congress in part to <a href="http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Lujan-Grisham-elected-to-Congress-in-Albuquerque-4016276.php">New Mexico's large Latino population</a>.
Albio Sires (D-N.J.)
The Cuban-American U.S. Rep. retained his seat.
Robert Menendez (D-N.J.)
New Jersey Cuban-American Bob Menendez is still a U.S. senator.
Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.)
The incumbent New York U.S. Rep. kept her seat.
Jose Serrano (D-N.Y.)
The incumbent congressman retained his seat.
Joaquin Castro (D-Tx.)
Joaquin Castro, the brother of Democratic Caucus sensation Julian Castro, <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/onpolitics/2012/11/06/joaquin-castro-congress-election-texas/1686933/">won himself a seat</a> in the House of Representatives.
Pete Gallego (D-Tx.)
The San Antonio politician heads to the House of Representatives.
Francisco Canseco (R-Tx.)
Francisco Canseco won't be headed to Washington this year. He was defeated by Democrat Pete Gallego.
Henry Cuellar (D-Tx.)
Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wa.)
Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.)
The incumbent retained her seat. <em><strong>CORRECTION:</strong> A previous version of this caption incorrectly stated Ms. Lucille Roybal-Allard's political affiliation and state. She's a California Democrat.</em>