Who Will Become The Face Of The GOP?

by Patrick Appel

Beinart feels that Ted Cruz is gaining steam:

Cruz is eclipsing Rubio, it’s worth recalling, at a time when the American people’s biggest complaints about the GOP are that it’s “too unwilling to compromise” and “too extreme.” (PDF) Were the Republican Party’s shrinking cohort of right-wing activists not sheltered from the rest of America by the informational cocoon Fox News has built for them, they would see in Rubio’s immigration work a politician struggling, not always coherently but with a degree of humility and good will, to show younger, poorer, newer, less white Americans that the GOP gives a damn about them. They might also realize that this kind of inclusive gesture, combined with Rubio’s natural charisma, offers the chance to partially undo the GOP’s reputation as a party beholden to blue bloods and bigots. Instead, they’ve discarded Rubio in favor of Cruz, a man who combines Sarah Palin’s worldview, Richard Nixon’s commitment to fair play, and Al Gore’s folksy charm.

Enten focuses, instead, on Christie, who he dubs the establishment candidate. He sees elite support for Christie as evidence that the GOP hasn’t completely lost its mind:

Christie’s scoring on the two rankings we have available place him more toward the center than any other candidate to win a Republican nomination since 1964. Some of you might say that Christie is more conservative than these scores indicate. But it seems to me that for every issue where Christie takes a conservative stand, he takes a moderate stance. So that while he’s conservative on taxes, he’s for campaign finance reform and green energy.

The point is he’s more toward the center than previous nominees. He no doubt will move somewhat towards the right, once he wins a second term in November. Still, even a hard turn right would still leave him as relatively moderate. A Republican leadership that was looking to move more towards the right would not be interested in nominating this man or nominating the committee chairmen they are in congress. This is a party that wants to win. It’s a party leadership that at least right now is following the historical pattern of wanting to nominate a more moderate candidate, after losing the the presidential election in two consecutive cycles.