It’s becoming increasingly clear that the GOP nominee is going to be either Donald Trump or Ted Cruz (or as the Post recently referred to them, syphillis or gonorrhea). So from the perspective of Democrats, who’d make the more favorable opponent? I vote for Trump. Ted Cruz may be unpleasant but he knows what it’s like to be a candidate, how it feels to be the subject of intense scrutiny and criticism. Trump doesn’t - at some point, he’s likely to simply lose his shit under the glare of the lights of a national campaign.
Dave Asche has a different view. Despite his being wrong, he’s a really good guy. Here’s his take on why Cruz is the opponent of choice.
I was talking with a friend the other night about a laundry list of issues before it eventually, of course, turned into a conversation about the current race for the White House. Of all the different topics we discussed about the election, one in particular stuck in my mind. And it is the question of whether Democrats would rather face Donald Trump or Ted Cruz in the general election.
The first answer to pop in many people’s heads, is likely Trump. All Hillary (or Bernie) would have to do is play all of the offensive comments he has made about women, African Americans, Mexicans, Muslims, and POW’s, to name a few, on a loop throughout the summer and fall. But even with all of that in mind, I am coming around to the opinion that Trump would present a unique danger to the Democratic nominee and Cruz would be the easier opponent.
Bear with me here. Donald Trump has almost unanimous name recognition. I realize Hillary Clinton is well known too, but if you were to ask the average American voter if they have heard of Trump or Clinton, my guess is Trump wins out. For better or worse, name recognition is major factor in winning elections.
Second, Trump has an ingenious way of knowing how to probe for weakness in his opponents, and applying the pressure if and when the story starts to get legs. In the early part of the campaign, Trump hammered Jeb Bush for being weak, “low energy,” and simply not up to the job of being president. Primary voters started buying into the argument and, well, we have all seen Jeb’s poll numbers lately. He responded to Hillary’s charge of sexism by linking her to Bill Clinton’s well documented foibles and completely turned the story around on her. And he turned what most of us thought was a ridiculous issue about Ted Cruz’s eligibility, and put Cruz on the defensive for weeks. And he managed to reign in Cruz’s momentum in Iowa in the process.
He knows how to get stories into the media, and thus, into the mainstream. He has very effective skills as an offensive puncher and a counterpuncher. Just imagine the effectiveness he will have attacking Hillary over sticking up for her husband during his affairs, Benghazi, and her email server at the State Department.
Third, and perhaps most important, is while Trump is a billionaire CEO, it will be very hard to paint him as the 2016 version of Mitt Romney. Trump is not campaigning as the rich oligarch who bashes the poor or calls for privatizing entitlement programs. Yes, he is proposing massive tax cuts on the wealthy. He is a Republican afterall. But during this campaign he has railed against proposals to cut Social Security and Medicare. He even went as far as to say he and other rich people around the country should sacrifice their benefits so they go to working people.
Trump has also been an opponent of free trade agreements. When he talks about how bad these agreements have been for the country and how they ship blue collar jobs overseas, Trump sounds more like Bernie Sanders than he does a rich conservative. His rantings against illegal immigration are tied to the same theme. That illegal immigrants are flocking across the border and taking good jobs away from hard working Americans. He is tapping into the populist, blue collar anger better than anybody in the GOP field right now and it is resonating with people. Does he sound like George Wallace while doing it? Yes. But to many people, it doesn’t matter.
Ted Cruz on the other hand is the face of everything that is wrong with Washington. He led the government shutdown in 2013 and has been a lead GOP obstructionist on just about every piece of legislation making its way through Congress. The American people are tired of gridlock, and Ted Cruz is the best guy to link to it.
In June of 2015 when the Supreme Court decided same sex marriage was legal, he called it one of the darkest days in American History. He is far to the right on other issues such as women’s health, taxes, regulations, guns, and to top it all off, he is a proud denier of the science behind climate change. An issue more and more Americans are seeing as a major problem.
And while Trump is far from likeable, he can come off as affable and charming at times. Ted Cruz does not. He isn’t even liked by his colleagues in the Senate.
Cruz has also shown he can be rattled when attacked. Aside from his response to Trump on the birther issue, in the last debate, Cruz was thrown off message and on the defensive when he was directly challenged. It was apparent as soon as Trump backhanded him on his New York values comments. His response to Marco Rubio’s opposition research on his immigration record come off as him being annoyed and again, on defense. The same goes for his answer to the questions about the undisclosed loans from his 2012 Senate campaign. Attacks on Cruz are far more effective than they are on Trump.
None of this is to suggest I think Trump would definitely beat Clinton or Sanders in the general election. But if people really sit down and think about it, they should come to the realization that facing Trump would not be the cakewalk they have been led to believe it would be.
Ted Cruz is the opponent the Democratic nominee should most want to face off against in November.