Ted Cruz pauses outside the Senate chamber to speak with reporters on Feb. 10. (Photo: J. Scott Applewhite/AP)
Conservative political commentator Rush Limbaugh says Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is the best bet for returning Ronald Reagan’s principles to the White House.
The controversial radio host said on “The Rush Limbaugh Show” Wednesday that no other Republican presidential candidates have come this close to Reagan in terms of articulated, implementable conservatism.
“If conservatism is your bag, if conservatism is the dominating factor in how you vote, there is no other choice for you in this campaign than Ted Cruz, because you are exactly right: This is the closest in our lifetimes we have ever been to Ronald Reagan,” Limbaugh said.
He criticized former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Ohio Gov. John Kasich for — from his perspective — caving on their conservative principles in order to court more moderate votes in the New Hampshire primary.
Then-President Ronald Reagan in the Oval Office on Jan. 28, 1986, after a televised address about the space shuttle Challenger explosion. (Photo: Dennis Cook/AP)
“They were going left as fast as [football great] Deion Sanders can backpedal,” he said. “They were moving left faster than anybody I’ve ever seen go left. And I opened the program yesterday saying, ‘You will never, ever have to worry about that with Ted Cruz.’”
In recent years, Reagan has emerged as a somewhat mythic hero for American conservatives. Many politicians have tried to align their campaigns with “the Gipper.”
The comparison between Cruz and Reagan has been cultivated in large part by Cruz himself. In his Iowa victory speech on Feb. 1, Cruz asked the crowd, “Do you want to know what scares the Washington cartel?”
“You,” they shouted back.
“Actually, not remotely. I don’t scare them in the tiniest bit. What scares them is you,” he said, pointing to the crowd. “What scares them is that the old Reagan coalition is coming back together, of conservatives. We’re seeing conservatives and evangelicals and libertarians and Reagan Democrats all coming together as one — and that terrifies Washington, D.C.”