Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is a hard man to feel sorry for. A person who inspires approximately zero empathy, his go-to facial expressions on the campaign trail are a smirk and a sneer. The list of people from both his distant and recent past going public to say they unreservedly loathe him grows by the day.
He is, to put it gently, not a likeable guy. But given the abuse he has suffered at the hands of his ostensible allies over the past two days, it’s almost – almost – enough to make you feel sorry for him.
On Wednesday, former Kansas senator and Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole became the latest in a long line of GOP stalwarts to publicly attack Cruz, saying that if he were to win the Republican presidential nomination, the result would be “cataclysmic” losses for the GOP not just at the presidential level, but all the way down the ticket in November.
In an interview with The New York Times Wednesday, Dole predicted, “If he’s the nominee, we’re going to have wholesale losses in Congress and state offices and governors and legislatures.”
Dole’s decision to come out against Cruz means that four out of the five Republicans who have been given the party’s presidential nomination in the past 28 years have publicly said they do not support the first-term Texas senator. 2012 nominee Mitt Romney has been more cautious, but even he is not on the record as a Cruz supporter.
But Dole, who served as Senate Majority Leader, went further than many who have simply expressed their dislike for Cruz, saying that in his view, billionaire and former reality television star Donald Trump would be a better president than the junior senator from Texas.
Trump, at least “could probably work with Congress,” Dole said, drawing what he apparently viewed as a sharp contrast with Cruz.
“I don’t know how he’s going to deal with Congress,” Dole told the Times’ Maggie Haberman. “Nobody likes him.”
The unexpected broadside from Dole came just a day after Sarah Palin, the poster child of the anti-establishment Republican right from 2004 and, to a lesser degree, 2008, appeared in Iowa to deliver her endorsement of Trump, rather than Cruz.
And hours before, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad said, it would be “a big mistake” for Iowa voters to support Cruz in his state’s first-in-the-nation caucus on February 1. (The senator, from oil-rich Texas, has been a vocal opponent of the ethanol subsidies that help keep prices for Iowa’s corn crop inflated.)
“I know he's ahead in the polls,” Branstad said. “But the only poll that counts is the one they take on caucus night and I think that could change between now and then.”
Cruz still appears to be besting Trump in Iowa polls, but it now looks as though the Republican Party establishment has decided that, of the two evils available, it prefers Trump to Cruz.