Good afternoon Austin:
Today was the day.
This morning was the morning.
Where were you when Ted Cruz appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe?
I was in front of the TV. Watching. Expectantly. Knowing that I would probably disappointed. And I was.
No space in the American media landscape burned brighter with Cruz hatred since the senator’s rise to national prominence than Morning Joe, presided over by former Republican congressman Joe Scarborough of Florida, and Mika Brzezinski, who is the daughter of former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinki. Their repeated, brutal condemnation of Cruz as a reckless, unpleasant, self-promoting demagogue, was ratified by a Greek Chorus of approval from whichever pundit regulars were on the show that day.
But, one would never have known that from watching today’s show.
Yes, Brzezinski pressed Cruz on his being one of 47 senators to sign a letter to the leaders of Iran warning against striking a nuclear deal with the Obama administration, but Scarborough, whose previous treatment of Cruz always seemed to drip with an intensely personal distaste, ultimately chimed in on Cruz’s behalf.
By the end of Cruz’s 15 minutes on the show, Brzezinki, who spent the first ten minutes scowling at the Texan, was succumbing to the Cruz charm, issuing a delighted laugh – with him, not at him – as she proclaimed, “I think you’re very nice.”
The toughest questioning came from Willie Geist, who also serves a co-anchor, when he demanded to know why in the world he wouldn’t run for president. “What’s the argument against running?” Geist asked. Cornered, Cruz was forced to admit that he has proven enormously popular on the trail in Iowa and New Hampshire (and so there is no good reason not to run.)
“I’m looking at it very seriously and really, we’re measuring our support and right now the support we’re seeing is very encouraging,” Cruz told Geist.
He offered anecdotal evidence.
“About a month ago I was in Iowa at a large gathering – one of these cattle calls where there are eight or ten potential candidates, and at the end of my remarks, I asked people to text in their cell phone numbers if they want to be part of our grassroots army. There were 1.200 people in that audience. How many do you think texted in.”
(Oh, that’s terrible. I hate self-serving rhetorical questions like this. You know that the number has to be high, but that he would prefer that you guess low so that he can impress you by how high it is; and if you say a high number that’s about right it looks like you’re buying into his self-promotion, and if you guess way high, you’re just being an ass, and …)
Geist: About all of them. (Pretty good answer)
Cruz – Three thousand, six hundred. It was 300 percent. Now it was live-streamed …
“It was interesting,” Cruz continued, using his favorite formulation, “this weekend in New Hampshire …
He proceeds to tell a story of a CNN story this week that is emblematic of how the national media, consumed with trivia, misses the big story of how popular he is.
It’s an article that’s worth looking at very carefully because, buried down in about he 20th paragraph of that article is a paragraph that said that there were substantially larger groups of voters that came out when I was there than had come out for Jeb Bush or Walker and there was more enthusiasm.
Now you might think in the world of journalism, that used to be called news, and that’s kind of called burying the lead. That as the 20th paragraph. And it’s interesting, what was CNN’s haedline? CNN’s headline was Cruz startles little girl and snubs a goat.“
Cruz’s depiction of the CNN story is accurate, though I’m not sure about the headline.
‘The whole world is on fire’: Scenes from Ted Cruz’s campaign trail
By Ashley Killough, CNN
Barrington, New Hampshire (CNN) U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz was delivering his normal rhetoric during a New Hampshire speech on Sunday, hitting the current administration on the economy, Obamacare and national security.
“And the Obama-Clinton foreign policy of leading from behind — the whole world is on fire,” the senator from Texas declared.
But he was stopped by a 3-year-old girl sitting in the front row.
“The world is on fire?” she yelled out.
Cruz took it and ran with it.
“The world is on fire — yes! Your world is on fire,” he exclaimed, seizing the moment as the crowd burst out into laughter. “But you know what? Your mommy’s here and everyone’s here to make sure that the world you grow up in is even better.”
The scene — while cute — captured Cruz’s determination to remain unwavering in his views and language, never backtracking. There was no “just kidding” or “that was only a metaphor” to assuage the little girl.
Instead, the first-term senator continued with his speechifying and used the moment to illustrate his point that while things are bad now, they could get better — especially, cough cough, if he becomes president.
A woman who identified herself as the child’s mother named Michelle later told the WRKO’s Kuhner Report that her child’s reaction came in a “high question kind of voice,” but that her daughter was “quite happy” in the aftermath.
“She really, basically was like ‘oh, oh, this is a great man.’ He’s the firefighter in her mind as a three-year-old. And was quite happy and she wanted a cookie.”
When voters pressed him Sunday to make a White House bid, Cruz told them to “stay tuned.”
“I’m looking at it very, very seriously,” he told the audience. “I would point out a week ago I was in Iowa, yesterday I was in South Carolina, and today I’m in New Hampshire.”
But he truly charmed the crowd when he said that after he and his wife got their daughters a puppy recently, one of the girls gave her approval for Cruz’s presidential aspirations.
“If you win, that means Snowflake will finally get a backyard to pee in,” his daughter said, according to Cruz.
In terms of energy and turnout, Sunday’s event stood out from other events held by potential White House contenders who were in New Hampshire this weekend, in part because it was open to the public, unlike other events headlined by Walker and Bush.
Organizers were overwhelmed by the number of people who showed up to the Barrington office of Turbocam, a manufacturing company that’s open about its Christian values, to hear Cruz speak. Twenty minutes before it was scheduled to start, organizers had to move the chairs, reporters and speakers to a bigger room to accommodate the 130 to 140 people who showed up.
His remarks were met with boisterous applause, and he was frequently urged to run for president by people who shook his hand before and after the event.
Halfway through Cruz’s remarks, a small-business owner in the audience was called on to ask a question but instead stood up proudly next to the senator and went off into a two-minute rant about how other Republicans in Washington aren’t representing their conservative constituents.
“It is D-Day in America folks,” he said, getting the crowd on their feet. “We can’t wait for another Republican. We need Ted Cruz.”
The man said his wife wrote a blank check for Cruz and pulled out his wallet, only to throw it on the ground at Cruz’s feet.
“For those who believe in miracles, this gentleman just threw his wallet at a politician,” Cruz said, getting a big laugh from the crowd. “And he actually got it back.”
On Morning Joe, Cruz made a general point about media coverage of the nascent but already very active presidential campaign:
It’s interesting. There is a big divide between local press and national press. And so I spent two days up in New Hampshire. The local press all covered he substance of what I said, the reactions of what happened. National press – it was all about the little girl and me terrifying her. You could literally read the stories side by side as if they’re covering Mars and Venus. What I respect about New Hampshire, the men and women take it very seriously, the whole country really depends on them to look people in the eye and ask the hard questions.
Last night, Cruz was on Late Night with Seth Meyers.
If you watch the clip there is footage from the scene where Cruz alarmed the child/piqued the child’s interest.
Meyers: You put a scare into a three-year-old, through no fault of your own.So I think the important lesson there is you realize kids are terrible with metaphors
Cruz: It’s interesting, though, the next line that occurs after that is, “but your mommy is here and we’re going to put it out.” And it’s interesting, that exchange, because in the last 24 hours there have been 50 media stories that say, `Cruz terrifies little girl.’ And by the end of it I was Freddy Krueger, I had fingernails and, not true.
I just talked to the mom about a half hour ago. (She said) My daughter was incredibly happy, and in fact, turned to me, and I said “Ted is going to put out the fire,” and she said, “He’s a fireman?”
Meyers: Again, they are bad with metaphors.
Cruz: He’s like Marshall on Paw Patrol …. There is only one member of the US Senate known for Green Eggs and Ham. (The Dr. Seuss book that Cruz read from the Senate floor during his marathon speech against Obamacare as a bedtime story for his young daughters back in Houston.)
Meyers: Your demo trends very young
Cruz: I poll very well in the three-to-six demographic.
To his credit, Meyers pivoted from that to a question on global warming/climate change: I think the world’s on fire, literally. Hottest year on record … I thought maybe you were coming around on global warming, but that’s not the case …. you’re not there.
Cruz: It’s interesting you say that. I just came back from New Hampshire where there’s snow and ice everywhere, and my view actually is simple. Debate on this should follow science and should follow data and many of the alarmists on global warming, they’ve got a problem with the science there doesn’t back them up and in particular satellite data demonstrates, the last 17 years there has been zero warming, none whatsoever. It’s why, you remember how it used to be called global warming and then magically the theory changed to climate change. The reason – it wasn’t, it’s not warming. The computer models say it is but the satellites show it’s not.
Back on Morning Joe, Brzezinski questioned Cruz about whether he and the 46 senators who signed the letter on the nuclear talks with Iran were simply trying to scuttle any deal.
Cruz handled the question well, saying it was a “profoundly dangerous deal,” that any “seventh grader” with a civics class under his or her belt knew that the Senate had a constitutional role in treaty-making, and that a good American negotiator would be able to make use of the letter to strengthen his or her hand.
The notion that it strengthens the hardliners in Iran is “utter silliness,” Cruz said.
“If we actually had negotiators that were trying to defend our national security, if anything, our letter would help them.”
Brzezinski was unconvinced, saying he and other senators were undermining chances for arriving at a necessary deal, but at that point, Scarborough interjected on Cruz’s behalf.
“The choice is not between war and a bad deal,” he said to Brzezinski. “Why it is so hard for you to believe that lot of us believe a bad deal is worse than no deal at all?”This was it. Faced with the longtime object of his outrage, Scarborough was defanged, and downright accommodating.Brzezinski had attempted to hold the line, but at some point her glare faded, and when Cruz said the CNN headline read, “Cruz Startles little girl, snubs a goat,” she issued a girlish laugh and a coquettish, “You stop it, right now.””Snubbed a goat? ” she asked.”The goat bites, by the way,” Cruz said. “Jon Huntsman got bit by the goat. I was warned, `be careful, the goat will take your finger off.”Laughter all around.Brzezinski’s conclusion: “So, the little girl thing very cute, I think you’re very nice.”
“Thank you, you’re going to get a lot of grief from your listeners,” Cruz replied
“Yes I am,” Brzezinski said. “But I want to look at just how deeply we disagree on something. John McCain says he’s sorry for the letter. Today, would you still sign it?”
“I would sign, and as John Hancock said, `I would sign it in large print, so that the Ayatollah wouldn’t need his reading glasses to read the signature,” said Cruz.
“There you go,” said Morning Joe Scarborough.
“We so disagree, respectfully,” said Brzezinski. “Sen. Ted Cruz, thank you..”
For those who may not be familiar with Morning Joe’s previous treatment of Ted Cruz, what follows ia partial primer.
July 31, 2013
Scarborough: You see what Ted Cruz is doing. He’s just going crazy on Republicans.
Oct. 7, 2013 Morning Joe calls Ted Cruz ‘shortsighted’, ‘stupid’, ‘Sarah Palin of the US Senate’
This is a personal favorite. It includes a clip from Candy Crowley on CNN interviewing Cruz: “Do you think you’ve hurt the Republican Party brand?”
Ted Cruz: (laughs) Not remotely, but I also think far too many people are worried about politics. Listen if we worry about what is impacting the American people, the politics will take care of itself. The politicians that are gazing at poll – there is a reason why the most common sentiment across this country is that the politicians aren’t listening to us.
Cutting away from the clip, Scarborough says, “it’s because of exactly the type of thing he’s going.:”.
Brzezinski: Twisted every answer.
Scarborough: It’s unbelievable.
Brzezinskit: It was horrifying to watch.
Scarbrough: The reason why approval ratings for Congress are dropping lower than ever before is exactly because of what Ted Cruz is engineering…. He’s Sarah Palin is what he is … He is Sarah Palin of the United States Senate … Go ahead and go around and get a small subset to love you, but he will never be president …. He thinks that he’s talking to a bunch of third-graders, And you know “Oh, I went to Harvard,” and “I went to Princeton.” There are a lot people from state schools, a lot of people from community colleges, and a lot of people with a high school degreesthat can spot it and can spot a snake-oil salesman a mile away.
Oct 8, 2013
Morning Joe team, featuring Carl Bernstein, equates Ted Cruz to Joe McCarthy
Sept. 20, 2013 – Scarborough: Ted Cruz has made a fool of himself
Scaborough: Ted Cruz went to Harvard and apparently they never take a math class.
Journalis Mark Halperin: For Ted Cruz, he could be a dominant force in American politics today and not just a niche force, and every public choice he has made has put him more and more in a niche.
March 15, 2013 – on guns.
Scarborough: Did Ted Cruz not go to law school, has he ever been to law school?
Political journalist John Heilemann: I believe he went to Harvard Law School.
July 31, 2013
Scarborough: You see what Ted Cruz is doing. He’s just going crazy on Republicans .. saying Tom Coburn is part of the Surrender Caucus …. I got to be careful what I say. Ted Cruz comes in, obviously so ignorant about the war that Tom Coburn has been fighting for 20 years, and to say something like this – Ted Cruz is a total train wreck. He is comparing Mitch McConnell to Barack Obama, attacking Tom Coburn as being a member of the Surrender Caucus, when Tom Coburn, and yes I, have put our political lives on the line more times in six months than Ted Cruz will in an entire lifetime.
Morning Joe regular Mike Barnicle: If I were little Teddy Cruz I’d be extremely careful about getting in the ring with Tom Coburn… Ted Cruz would end up being Kid Candle in that fight. One blow and he would be out.
Well, today, little Teddy Cruz showed up on Morning Joe and he blew them away.