On Monday, after much fanfare, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, announced his candidacy for President of the United States. In doing so, he became the first major candidate — Democrat or Republican — to formally throw his hat into the ring, though numerous others have already all-but-declared.
Cruz, a darling of the Tea Party, launched his presidential campaign at Liberty University, the evangelical religious-right affiliated college in Lynchburg, Virginia founded by the late Jerry Falwell. In doing so, he pushed for a number of increasingly extreme right-wing fantasies, such as a flat tax and no assistance for struggling students. He was incessantly (and, in my opinion, rightfully) mocked across the board by media pundits for such asinine displays, but the outlets have appeared to underestimate Cruz's prowess as a political candidate.
In the lead-up to the 2012 senatorial election, Cruz was underestimated even more. He began the election polling in the single-digits against the odds-on favorite in the Republican primary (which is tantamount to election), then-Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. However, Cruz is such an articulate and persuasive force on the campaign trail that he was able to sweep the endorsements of important Tea Party groups, as well as other conservative causes. Partially, this is due to Cruz's inimitable style of casually and confidentially lying on little stuff and big stuff alike.
Obviously, Cruz pulled off an improbable upset and was elected to the Senate in 2012. There is no reason to not think he can replicate this in the 2016 Republican primary. Much like the activist Left fell in love with Barack Obama during his 2008 presidential campaign, at points idolizing him as infallible in near hero-worship, the Right and the Tea Party have done the exact same thing with Ted Cruz. He is their "man on the white horse" who will lead them to the promised land, so to speak.
Furthermore, similar to how many on the left were unable to comprehend or recognize Obama's inevitable return to the reasonable center following the Democratic primary, it would make sense that the right would have similar cognitive dissonance over Cruz's inevitable return to the reasonable center, should he win the primary. For these reasons, Cruz should be treated as a contender-- if not a front-runner -- to not only win the Republican primaries, but the general election, as the 45th President of the United States.
Horwitz is the senior associate editor.