Ted Cruz won a small but important victory on his path to a presidential run in 2016. While the Texas Senator may be a darkhorse for now, many political insiders believe he could have what it takes to defeat Hillary Clinton in two years.
This week Cruz won a straw poll at the conservative Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, taking 30 percent of the vote. Close to one-third of the 1,500 delegates at the conference voted in the poll, helping Cruz to edge out conservative speaker and author Ben Carson.
While it may be just a small mark on what would be a long road to the Republican nomination, the victory could carry heavy significance. In order to win the nomination, Cruz must be able to appeal to the Republican voting base that leans more conservative in the primaries and caucuses than in the general election. His victory proves that he carries strong sway with this group.
Ted Cruz is still seen as trailing the pack of Republican contenders, which include Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, Texas Governor Rick Perry, and former Arkansas Governor Mick Huckabee. But Crux beat out all of these candidates in the Louisiana straw poll.
Though many view Hillary Clinton as a near shoe-in to win the Democratic nomination and a very strong contender to win the presidency, she has shown some weaknesses. A new Washington Post poll shows that women support Clinton by a margin of 61-33 percent, but that her numbers are far lower among men. Just 49 percent of men say they would vote for Hillary Clinton, while 46 percent would not vote for her.
Ted Cruz has also used his position to hammer Hillary Clinton on foreign policy. Appearing in an interview on ABC’s This Week, Cruz criticized her handling of the attack on a United States consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
“What I think is that she has deliberately stonewalled,” Cruz said. “The American people deserve the truth; our men and women in harm’s way deserve the truth.”
Ted Cruz also tried to tie Clinton in with the failures of the Obama administration in what appears to be the groundwork for a 2016 platform.
“Her policies, domestically and internationally, haven’t worked,” he said. “Domestically the Obama economic agenda is a disaster; we’ve got the lowest labor force participation since 1978; millions of hardworking Americans, their lives have gotten harder.”
Cruz argued that “internationally, the Obama-Clinton foreign policy is a disaster… Every region of the world has gotten worse; America has weakened, our enemies have been strengthened.”
Ted Cruz has yet to officially announce whether he will run in 2016, but his attacks on Hillary Clinton seem to indicate that he’s planning on it.