Why Ted Cruz is lashing out at Mitch McConnell

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CNN

Ted Cruz went ham on Mitch McConnell on Monday.

“Mitch would rather be leader than a Republican majority,” Cruz said on his podcast. “If there’s a Republican who can win and won’t support Mitch, the truth is he’d rather the Democrat win.”

What, well, ho!

Cruz was also part of a small group of Republican senators pushing for the leadership election, scheduled for Wednesday, to be postponed until after the runoff in Georgia on Dec. 6. On Tuesday, Cruz said it would be “completely insane” to hold the leadership election before there was a postmortem of the interim results, leading to Democrats retaining control of the Senate.

“I believe we need to have a leader who really listens to the conference, and who is willing to stand up and fight, not turn around,” Cruz said. “Our current leadership believes that the way you win elections is that you stand for nothing, have no agenda, have no plan. Instead, all you get is standing up and saying, ‘Well, I’m not a Democrat. So vote for me.’ You know what? Election Day showed that we need to be more than just not a Democrat.”

How to explain Cruz’s rhetoric about McConnell? Simple. It’s political.

Cruz has made no secret of his political ambitions. He finished runner-up to Donald Trump in the 2016 Republican presidential primary. Although he and Trump finished that race on bitter terms — Trump falsely claimed that Cruz’s father may have been involved in John F. Kennedy’s assassination and assaulted his wife — Cruz eventually supported Trump and became one of the former president’s staunchest defenders in the Senate.

The lesson Cruz learned from that evolving relationship with Trump is that the Republican base absolutely loves the former president and has zero interest in any candidate who opposes him. (Whether that calculus has changed since a disappointing midterm election result for Republicans remains to be seen.)

And so Cruz has been hewing as close to Trump as possible in recent years — as he tries to make amends for the ill-will of the 2016 race.

When you see Cruz’s overreaction to the 2022 election — and the speed with which he blamed McConnell — through that Trump lens, things start to make more sense.

Trump has been unrelenting in his criticism — and intimidation — of McConnell in the aftermath of the midterm elections.

“It’s Mitch McConnell’s fault,” Trump wrote in a post on his Truth Social website after Democrats seized control of the Senate. “He blew the midterms, and everyone despises him.”

And as CNN recently reported, Trump is pressuring his allies to also blame McConnell:

“In telephone conversations with allies, elected officials and new members of Congress, former President McConnell has accused McConnell of spending recklessly in states where Republicans faced significant headwinds to the detriment of candidates in more competitive contests.”

So Cruz just follows Trump’s instructions. He knows—because he can count—that no one is going to beat McConnell in the Senate Republican nomination. But that’s not what Cruz really cares about.

What is doing case is a virtue signal to the Trump base that he thinks McConnell did a bad job — and that he’s angry about it.

It’s also worth noting that the animosity between Cruz and McConnell isn’t new. McConnell was openly frustrated when Cruz forced a government shutdown in 2013 over then-President Barack Obama’s health bill — a strategy the GOP leader viewed as utterly selfish and counterproductive to the party’s broader efforts.

Trump is widely expected to announce his third bid for the presidency on Tuesday night. It’s hard to see room for the Texas senator in a field that includes the former president and perhaps (probably?) Florida governor Ron DeSantis.

But Cruz could very well be angling to be in the vice presidential mix if Trump ends up as a GOP nominee in 2024. Either way, Cruz is betting firmly that being in the Trump camp (rather than the McConnell camp) will pay dividends for him in the future.

This story has been updated with additional information.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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