Likable enough. Cruz kids steal hearts, will delegates follow?

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Good day Austin:

Anderson Cooper’s first question to Caroline Cruz yesterday was a softball, and she hit it out of the park.

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“How old are you, Caroline?” Cooper asked on a CNN Town Hall with Caroline, her sister Catherine, and parents, Ted and Heidi Cruz.

“I’m seven,” Caroline said. “But my birthday’s tomorrow.”

 

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That would be today. Happy Birthday Caroline.

And with that, and what followed, Caroline, and Catherine, and Heidi, and even Ted, began melting America’s cold, cold heart, revealing, among other things, that the first invite to a Cruz White House would go to Taylor Swift, Caroline’s and Catherine’s favorite.

Heidi Cruz, the daughter of missionaries, who grew up without a TV set, prefers Christian music

Caroline said she favors anything Tay-Tay, especially “Bad Blood,” “Blank Space,” and “Wildest Dreams”

The highlight is Caroline explaining why she stopped singing Taylor Swift with sister Caroline using their karaoke machine.

“We do not sing together,” she said. “It does not match. I stopped singing because she oversings me.”

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Here’s another clip, showing what a soft touch Cruz is for his daughters.

And here is the full CNN Town Hall, which began with Cruz alone, then added Heidi, and then Caroline and Catherine.

 

Donald Trump has done Ted Cruz the great favor of making him appear politically reasonably and temperamentally moderate.

Perhaps the greatest rap remaining against Cruz is his notorious unlikeability, enshrined in the SNL impersonation of Cruz as smarmy, oleaginous creep without redeeming personal qualities.

But, like Trump, the one-dimensional SNL Cruz may ultimately redound to his benefit as people discover a more wholly human – and even likable – Cruz than they were led to believe existed.

 

While Heidi revealed that Caroline’s favorite state is New York, it is probably too little too late to help Cruz in the Empire State primary on Tuesday, where polls now place him third, way behind Trump and a little behind John Kasich.

From Public Policy Polling:

New York Hates Ted Cruz; Trump, Clinton Lead Big

PPP’s new New York poll finds Donald Trump heading for a dominant victory in his home state, where he gets 51% to 25% for John Kasich and 20% for Ted Cruz.

There had been some thought Cruz might have momentum after his big win in Wisconsin last week, but New Yorkers hate him. Even among Republicans just 35% see him favorably to 50% with an unfavorable opinion. Kasich has a narrowly positive favorability at 41/38, but the only candidate GOP voters in the state really like is Trump at 65/29.

 

But, of course, if Cruz were his party’s nominee, he would likely be running against Hillary Clinton, with her own sky-high negatives earned over a much, much longer career in public life and based on a far greater degree of public knowledge, and so, perhaps, less tractable.

 

Last night may have been the Cruz campaign’s most successful foray into establishing that Cruz is “likeable enough.”

Heidi:

Ted is an incredible listener. Ted Cruz is an incredible listener. I want all voters to hear that and one reason is he really cares. He really cares about what your saying. He really cares about what’s on your heart. He cares about the context, not just a fact or a figure. He really cares about the context..

Ted has many qualities and thoughtfulness comes at the top of the list.

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Heidi Cruz was asked point blank by August Iorio, an attorney in the audience, about her husband’s likeability.

Iorio, noting that Cruz had said that he might not be the guy you want to have a beer with, but he would be the guy who would give you a ride home, and that polls indicate that about 60 percent of voters have an unfavorable view of him, asked Heidi, “As his wife, who knows him better than  anybody else, can you give us a little insight about why your husband may be likeable that the general public doesn’t know.

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Heidi Cruz:

Think about the context of this. People are not talking about knowing Ted, knowing what it’s like to hang out and be with him. They’re talking about the projections of the news media and those in Washington who have not been working for the American people.

 

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One of the greatest thing about marrying Ted Cruz was the opportunity to hang out with all of his friends. They are incredible people. Ted is one of the most  likeable people I’ve ever met. He’s a great game player. He’ll stay up all night. He’s a movie buff. He’s a lot of fun. He’s quick to laugh and doesn’t take himself too seriously.

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Here is the headline deck on tabloid coverage of the cuddly Town Hall from Wills Robinson at  the Daily Mail:

The town hall love-in: Ted Cruz and Heidi put on united front in mushy CNN appearance in wake of five mistresses rumor – but it’s their daughters who steal the show as they let slip family secrets

  • Ted and Heidi answered questions from Anderson Cooper and voters 
  • They talked about their vision for the White House and their relationship
  • Heidi tried to paint Ted as likable by describing him as a movie buff and a great listener  
  • Revealed that after their honeymoon, he bought 100 cans of soup
  • His two daughters Caroline and Catherine, came on for the second half 
  • The youngsters almost stole the show as they talked about Build-A-Bear, American Girl Dolls and karaoke 
  • Girls said they wanted Taylor Swift to be their first guest in White House
  • Cruz was slammed online for talking about watching porn with Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor 

About the soup, apparently Cruz did not expect Heidi to cook much.

We came back from our honeymoon and Ted went off to the store by himself. I was completely shocked to see him come back to out apartment with literally a hundred cans of chunky Campbells soup.

She said he was wrong about her cooking and she returned the fallout shelter full of canned soup, and my guess is that it was Cruz’s fear of thermonuclear war and not concern about his wife’s kitchen skills that led him to stockpile 100 cans of soup in the first place.

Campbell's Soup Cans Andy Warhol (American, 1928–1987) 1962. Synthetic polymer paint on thirty-two canvases, Each canvas 20 x 16" (50.8 x 40.6 cm) Museum of Modern Art

Campbell’s Soup Cans
Andy Warhol
(American, 1928–1987)
1962. Synthetic polymer paint on thirty-two canvases, Each canvas 20 x 16″ (50.8 x 40.6 cm)
Museum of Modern Art

Before the wife and kids took the stage, Anderson asked Cruz about the charge by Paul Manafort, who the Trump campaign has brought on to craft its convention strategy, that the Cruz campaign had resorted to Gestapo tactics to its delegate hunt.

Here is what Manafort said on Meet the Press Sunday.

CHUCK TODD: What is fair game to win a delegate? Is threatening a fair game? Is threats a fair game?

PAUL MANAFORT: It’s not my style, and it’s not Donald Trump’s style.

CHUCK TODD: What is —

PAUL MANAFORT: But it is Ted Cruz’s style. And that’s going to wear thin very fast.

CHUCK TODD: Do you think he’s threatening delegates?

PAUL MANAFORT: Well, he’s threatening, you go to these county conventions, and you see the tactics, Gestapo tactics, the scorched-earth tactics–

CHUCK TODD: Gestapo tactics? That’s a strong word.

PAUL MANAFORT: Well, you look at, we’re going to be filing several protests because reality is, you know, they are not playing by the rules. But frankly, that’s the side game. Because the only game I’m focusing on right now is getting delegates. And the games that have happened, even this past weekend, you know, are not important to the long-term game of how do we get to 1,237.

CHUCK TODD: But is he, I guess what is fair game and getting a delegate? Is paying for their convention costs, is it– golf club memberships? What’s fair and unfair in this? What’s ethical, what’s unethical?

PAUL MANAFORT: Well, there’s the law, and then there’s ethics, and then there’s getting votes. I’m not going to get into what tactics are used. I happen to think the best way we’re going to get delegates is to have Donald Trump be exposed to delegates, let the delegates hear what he says. He’s done very well so far in putting himself in position by virtue of communicating.

You know, the key I think for delegates coming up, especially the unbound delegates, is the electability question. And right now, we’re in a fight, and this fight is, you know, causes for negative for all the candidates. But there’s no question in my mind, there’s not one state you can look at that Romney won or lost in 2012 that Cruz can win. Not one. But Trump changes the whole map. As we get into those arguments, which is the endgame of the endgame, that persuasion starts to have an impact.

Here’s what Cruz had to say on CNN last night about that.

I have to say Anderson, it is bizarre. Donald and his team, it’s almost like they’re subjects in a clinical course in psychology. There are all sorts of behaviors they display but one of them is projection, that the conduct they do, regularly ,they accuse everyone else of doing.

So literally in the last few weeks, Donald’s team – Roger Stone – his chief political adviser, was threatening to out the hotel rooms of delegates who dare to cross Trump, so they could be intimidated. They are acting like union boss thugs.

Cruz said Trump supporters in Colorado had encouraged death threats against the Republican GOP chairman in Colorado after Trump was shut out by Cruz in delegate selection there.

Anderson noted that Roger Stone no longer works with the Trump campaign.

“That’s what he says,” said Cruz. But, he said of Stone, “he planned the campaign” and “I believe he’s the outside henchman. They use him for their dirty work.”

Cruz leveled similar criticism in an interview Tuesday with Glenn Beck in which he said, “Donald needs to understand he is not Michael Corleone.”

“I’m very glad to wake up this morning, that I didn’t find a horse’s head in my bed, so that was very comforting,” Cruz old Cooper.

“It’s not funny when Roger Stone, who organized and put together Trump’s political campaign is telling delegates in Cleveland  `We’re going to make public your hotel rooms so people can come threaten and intimidate you if you dare vote against Donald Trump.'” Cruz said.

“You know what that is behaving like? That is behaving like Democrats in 1968 in Chicago and we’re not Democrats and we’re not interested in acting like union thugs and Donald needs to learn that.”

 

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The “union thugs” line is a reprise from his comments to Beck, and as I noted in yesterday’s First Reading, I don’t get why that is the reference or imagery of choice for the point he is trying to make.

I understand that Cruz is but a lad and that he was born two years after the 1968 convention. But he probably read about it at Princeton or Harvard, and union thugs had nothing to do with the violence there, mostly between police and anti-war demonstrators, unless he is talking about members of the city’s Fraternal Order of Police, but somehow, I don’t think that’s what he is referring to.

There was also this exchange between Cooper and Cruz on the vice presidency on a Cruz ticket.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN: Marco Rubio just yesterday said he hopes, quote, they’ll nominate a conservative and the only one that fits that criteria is you. Is there a chance we could see a Cruz/Rubio unity ticket? The two of you could cut a deal in which he gives you his delegates?

SEN. TED CRUZ: I think very, very highly of Marco. I appreciated those kind comments he made. He’s an amazing communicator. One of the best communicators in the Republican party. And he ran a campaign that inspired millions across this country. It inspired me.

When he ran for senate in 2010, his underdog race in Florida inspired me. It was one of the inspirations that led me to run two years later in Texas. I think in world of Marco.

COOPER: Is that really true? You had tough words during the campaign. Is that part of how it works?

CRUZ: It’s a campaign. He was trying to beat me. I was trying to beat him. That’s what happens in a campaign. I consider Marco a friend.

COOPER: Could you see a Cruz/Rubio ticket?

CRUZ: Anyone would naturally look at Marco as one who would be a terrific person to consider for VP. We’re in the process of considering a number of different options.

COOPER: You aren’t ruling it out?

CRUZ: He would be someone you’d be a fool not to look at seriously. He’s very, very talented.

Also this, from the Weekly Standard Tuesday.

This morning on the Michael Graham show, a new theory was offered by RNC National Committeeman of Georgia Randy Evans, who sits on the influential rules committee.

“I would venture to bet that what eventually will happen is we’re gonna see two of the candidates cut a deal,” Evans said. “And they’re gonna say, you get your delegates to us, you’ll be the VP, we’re gonna run as a ticket. And literally, what you could do in the oddest sort of way, is have the first ballot be two ticket ballots: Trump-Kasich versus Cruz-Rubio. Now that would be wild, because I’ve run the scenarios on that, and there is no way to predict how such a vote would turn out.”

 A lot of pundits have focused on Kasich, and whether or not his prolonged run is really just a ploy to force him into the VP slot. Kasich has repeatedly denied this. Last night, in a special interview with his family and Anderson Cooper, Kasich trotted out his oft-repeated line “I would be the worst vice president ever” and reiterated that he’s sticking in to win the nomination through the ballot process.

What’s interesting is Evans’s mention of Rubio, who has largely been absent from the limelight after dropping out. The commonly accepted logic is that Rubio pushing for the Presidential nomination during a vote-a-rama at the convention would be bad news for the GOP, but as a Cruz VP choice?

Among the compelling, fascinating and vitally important subplots of the coming convention is the fact that the competing candidates at this point would each have to vet and select a running-mate ahead of time, lest they end up being their party’s nominee and are forced to pick a partner without benefit of the due consideration that led to such stellar picks as Tom Eagleton, Dan Quayle and Sarah Palin.

From Todd Gillman at the Dallas Morning News.

WASHINGTON — Four years ago this week, with four months left before he would formally accept the Republican nomination, Mitt Romney named a longtime confidant to spearhead the effort to find a suitable vice president.

Ted Cruz’s campaign has quietly started the search. But for Cruz, Donald Trump and John Kasich, the task is not as easy as it was for past contenders.

Republicans are likely headed into the first national convention in decades where a party’s presidential nominee will not already be settled. Usually, a candidate, like Romney, has long clinched victory and chosen whom he wants to join him on the ticket. Not this time.

Three months before delegates arrive in Cleveland, only Trump is close enough to win without a floor fight. Even he faces long odds and won’t know for sure until the final primaries on June 7.

The uncertainty leaves the contenders with a tough, two-pronged task: Win the convention fight and simultaneously prepare for the fall, by identifying and investigating a running mate.

Trump has tossed out possible choices. Cruz has quietly shifted some campaign resources to the task. But they’re losing precious time. And scholars, campaign veterans and operatives who’ve overseen vetting for previous nominees warn that haste in such matters can yield catastrophe.

“It’s one of the complicating factors of having a protracted nomination,” said the Texas senator’s chief strategist, Jason Johnson. “We quickly approach the point where if we’re not thinking about those things, we’re neglecting our obligation to be prepared to be the nominee and beat Hillary [Clinton].”

He emphasized that Cruz is anything but “negligent,” though he declined to describe the process or identify a point person. “Ultimately the goal is to beat Hillary, and in order to beat Hillary you have to have a running mate,” Johnson said. “Those things are being considered.”

As for Cruz-Rubio, seems to me maybe just a little too Cuban.

As Will Ferrell, as George W. Bush, put it here: Cruz and Rubio. Rubio and Cruz. Sounds like a Miami law firm. `If you’ve been injured on the job, call Rubio and Cruz.’

And it’s not like Rubio even demonstrated the kind of support in Florida that would prove decisive in that must-win state.

Carly Fiorina, who has become an energetic Cruz surrogate, has advertised her availability as a running-mate, which I think was the whole point of her presidential candidacy to begin with.

But, unless Cruz thinks it will simply make him appear more likeable by comparison, Fiorina doesn’t seem a wise choice,

A female running-mate would make great sense in a general election against Hillary Clinton, but South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley would make more sense on every level – experience, background, presentation – than Fiorina.

Anderson also asked Cruz about a fundraising appeal that went out this week, promising to activate the donor’s Cruz Crew Deputy Delegate card in exchange for some fresh cash.

 

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Cruz said it was perfectly obvious that the card was just a fundraising gimmick and not to be taken any more seriously than a Crackerjack prize.

But apparently Kid Cruz’s pop culture doesn’t extend to Ed Norton, as in, ” I, Edward Norton, Ranger Third Class in the Captain Video Space Academy do solemnly pledge to obey my mommy and daddy, be kind to dumb animals and old ladies in and out of space, not to tease my little brothers and sisters and to brush my teeth twice a day and drink milk after every meal.”

But Ed, Brookyn sewer worker and personification  of New York values, is probably voting for Trump or Bernie Sanders anyway.

Finally, here is a radio ad the Cruz campaign is running.

ANNOUNCER: Here’s Mayor de Blasio attacking Ted Cruz.<

de BLASIO: I think Ted Cruz is out of touch with New York State and New York City.

 

ANNOUNCER: He’s got a lot of nerve, de Blasio’s socialist policies are tearing this city apart.

Murder is up nearly 10%. He treats cops like criminals and criminals like freedom fighters. De Blasio made New York a sanctuary city, rolling out the red carpet for illegals, and de Blasio ended stop and frisk even where terrorist suspects are known to congregate.

Now, he’s meddling in the Republican primary campaigning against Cruz because when Cruz is President, de Blasio is done.

No more criminal coddling soft on terror policies, no more sanctuary cities and Cruz will instruct the Justice Department to hold corrupt politicians accountable. Maybe that’s why de Blasio fears Ted Cruz. Send de Blasio a message, vote Cruz for President.

CRUZ: I’m Ted Cruz and I approve this message.

ANNOUNCER: Paid for by Cruz for President.

Now, he’s meddling in the Republican primary campaigning against Cruz because when Cruz is President, de Blasio is done.

 
Done? Huh? What does that even mean?
Not very likeable.
I think Cruz might have done a lot better to go with an ad of Caroline and Catherine oversinging each other on I Love New York.

 

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