Chad’s Morning Brief: A Different Ted Cruz?, Greg Abbott Raises More Than Wendy Davis, and Other Top Stories
Here is your Morning Brief for the morning of February 4, 2014. Give me your feedback below and tune in to The Chad Hasty Show for these and many more topics from 8:30 to 11am. Remember, you can listen online at KFYO.com or on your iPhone/Android with the radioPup App.
A New Ted Cruz?
Is Senator Ted Cruz changing his ways in Washington? According to POLITICO, Cruz is reaching out to the establishment while still criticizing the GOP on a few issues.
At a GOP lunch last week, Sen. John McCain noted that “some crazy guy from Texas” stormed out during President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address.
“Hey,” Texas Sen. Ted Cruz chimed in, “I didn’t walk out of the State of the Union.”
The packed room erupted in laughter.
The exchange — referring to GOP Rep. Steve Stockman’s heavily publicized early exit — reflects thawing tensions between Cruz and his fellow GOP senators. After battling with Senate Republicans for much of 2013, prompting tense confrontations and occasional shouting matches, Cruz is starting to achieve what once seemed unthinkable: He’s getting along reasonably well with most of his GOP colleagues.
Since playing a lead role in the government shutdown last fall, Cruz has joined with Republicans on fights ranging from the Internal Revenue Service’s scrutiny of conservative groups to the Obamacare contraception mandate. Cruz dined with McCain at the posh Capital Grille steakhouse. He cracked jokes with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) at last week’s State of the Union.
In an olive branch to his colleagues, Cruz privately assured them he wouldn’t raise money for a conservative group attacking GOP senators. And he even allowed the Senate to leave early for its Martin Luther King Jr. Day recess by dropping demands for what would have been a futile attempt to gut Obamacare.
It’s a sharp departure from his high-profile battles with his party last year over whether to confirm Chuck Hagel to lead the Pentagon, launch House-Senate budget negotiations and fund the government if Obamacare moved forward. And it’s a sign that Cruz — who has cast himself as an outsider battling the party establishment — is starting to develop an inside game in the clubby Senate, where relationships are important.
While the 43-year-old Cruz is unapologetic about his role in the shutdown, a number of senators privately believe he was humbled by the backlash over his strategy, which didn’t stop Obamacare — as he vowed — but resulted in poor poll numbers for the GOP and made him a pariah in the party establishment. The question is whether this approach will last and help rebuild ties with key players and donors as he eyes a possible 2016 run for the GOP presidential nomination.
“I like Ted,” Graham gushed last week. “And I think the confrontational style has been mitigated a bit. That’s not saying he’s abandoned what he believes, but I think he’s adjusted, and people who are smart enough to adjust will do very well.”
Cruz still takes periodic shots at his Republican colleagues for caving to Democrats, and he’s trying to derail an emerging House GOP immigration effort. But his latest approach appears far more measured than his bombastic style during his opening months as a senator.
For instance, Cruz was not afraid to commandeer the Senate floor often last year, directing pointed rhetoric at his colleagues, including during a 21-hour floor speech in September over Obamacare. But since the government reopened in mid-October, Cruz has spoken on the floor just three times. And behind closed doors, where GOP senators used to gripe that Cruz would lecture and talk down to them, he is now more reserved and speaks less frequently, according to many of his colleagues.
“I think he’s working hard to do what most of us do, which is to recognize that we’re in a body that’s based heavily upon relationships, and you get more done when you have good relationships,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.). “He comes to the Republican meetings, he’s good-humored, and from my point of view, a pleasure to have in the caucus.”
Cruz declined to be interviewed for this story. But Sean Rushton, Cruz’s spokesman, insisted his boss has “consistently” reached out to both parties and has “treated every senator with civility and respect.”
“When others chose to launch personal attacks, Sen. Cruz did not reciprocate,” Rushton wrote in an email. “Instead his focus has been — and will remain — on substance, working to restore economic growth … to pull our nation back from the fiscal and economic cliff we face.”
Later in the story...
These days, many senators see Cruz’s more-nuanced approach and friendly demeanor as an implicit acknowledgement by the Texas freshman that he needs to recalibrate his style in order to avoid being a permanent outcast. GOP senators lunch together virtually every full day when Congress is in session — so it’s better to be on friendly terms with fellow dining companions.
“I think from a stylistic standpoint, he probably realizes that in order to get accomplishments here in the Congress, you have to reach out to people on both sides and see if you can get them on your side when it comes to a particular issue,” said Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, No. 3 in Senate GOP leadership. “I haven’t noticed any less intensity, … but I think he’s definitely trying hard to make a difference here.”
Still, it’s not as though Cruz has dropped all of his divisive rhetoric. Last week, Cruz accused House and Senate GOP leaders of “aggressively” urging Republicans to cave on the budget, the farm bill, debt limit and immigration. He’s trying to defeat an emerging House GOP immigration push to legalize undocumented immigrants, saying anyone who advances a bill to grant “amnesty” should “put a ‘Harry Reid for majority leader’ bumper sticker on their car.”
But he didn’t wage campaigns to kill the budget compromise reached in December, the $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill that continued to fund Obamacare or the farm bill destined to become law.
“I think his focus is broader now,” said Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.). “I think that’s good for whatever his ambitions are — whether it’s to stay in the Senate or run for president someday.”
Even his relationship with the senior senator from Texas, John Cornyn, seems to be better. Cornyn, the Senate’s No. 2 Republican, publicly broke with Cruz over the defunding Obamacare tactic — an issue Cornyn’s primary opponents are using against him. And Cruz has refused to endorse Cornyn in his primary campaign against Stockman and a handful of other candidates.
But Cornyn has since signed onto a Supreme Court amicus brief with Cruz in a case over the Obamacare contraception mandate, and the two are working through a series of judicial nominations affecting their state. Their relationship is “hunky dory,” Cornyn said.
“He understands and I understand that the most important thing is to win the election — not the endorsement game,” Cornyn said of Cruz’s decision to withhold his public support. “People are either going to support me or not support me because of my record not because of what other people say.”
You can read the full story by clicking the link above.
Abbott Winning the Money Race
The bad news keeps piling up for Wendy Davis. According to the Statesman, Greg Abbott raised more than three times the amount of money Wendy Davis did in January.
Attorney General Greg Abbott raised more than three times as much money the first three weeks of January as state Sen. Wendy Davis did, leaving him with a cash advantage of $29.4 million to the Fort Worth Democrat’s $10.2 million.
The totals were released Monday by the respective gubernatorial campaigns based on their 30-day pre-primary fundraising reports. Abbott raised $3.1 million and Davis, $913,000 from Jan. 1-23, the campaigns reported.
The Abbott campaign is making the Davis camp look like a bunch of amateurs. The Davis campaign can't raise the money needed and can't even keep friends in the liberal media. The weak fundraising numbers could show that the big money donors are thinking twice before handing over a check.
Other Top Stories:
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