Cruz (Carolyn Kaster / AP)
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz stayed true to his campaign mantra, “stand and fight,” Wednesday as he stood amid a crowd of reporters and vowed to keep pressing to dismantle President Barack Obama’s health care law.
“This fight, this debate will continue until collectively the American people can make D.C. listen,” said Cruz, as other Republican senators streamed out of a meeting lamenting the political damage wrought by an unwinnable showdown with the White House championed by one of their newest members.
The government reopened its doors Thursday after a battle-weary Congress approved a bipartisan measure Wednesday to end a 16-day partial shutdown and avert a federal default.
Cruz, 42, is emerging from what Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain called a “shameful chapter” in the Senate’s history largely unscathed in the eyes of his donors and Republican activists.
“To the conservative movement in America, he is what courage looks like,” said Matt Hoskins, executive director of the Senate Conservatives Fund, which promotes tea party-backed candidates who favor smaller government.
Cruz, a lawyer who argued cases before the U.S. Supreme Court prior to his 2012 election, is counted among prospective Republican Party presidential contenders in 2016. His take-no- prisoners approach could play well in Iowa, where caucuses typically start the nomination process, said David Yepsen, director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.
He cautioned that Cruz will need to guard against dangers that come with a high profile. “A meteoric rise like this can be accompanied by a meteoric fall,” Yepsen said.
A Pew Research Center poll released Wednesday showed Cruz’s popularity among tea party Republicans has soared to 74 percent from 47 percent in July. Among non-tea party Republicans, he is viewed unfavorably by 31 percent.
A senator for just nine months, Cruz’s attention-grabbing tactics have strained his relations with colleagues in Congress and reliable Republican allies outside of it.
While Washington Republicans complain, the party’s grass roots celebrate, and Cruz’s campaign coffers show no signs of suffering: He raised about $1.2 million in the three-month period that ended Sept. 30, a few days after his filibuster. That’s about what he collected in the three months before that.
His donors — mostly tea party backers rather than big businesses — say they knew what they were getting when they helped propel him to an unexpected victory over Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, the Republican establishment favorite, in Texas’s Senate primary last year.