By the time many email subscribers read this, the results of Tuesday’s crucial primaries will be in the record books. We will know if Trump managed to pull out a victory in Ohio over the surging hometown hero, John Kasich. We will know if Marco Rubio found a way to stun the nation with a come-from-behind victory in Florida. And depending on how the night went, we may know whether or not Trump can conceivably pick up 1,237 delegates before the Republican Convention in July.
But no matter how things turn out, it’s worth throwing some respect to Senator Ted Cruz. Unlike Rubio, Cruz has never stooped to the shameful depths of encouraging his voters to use their ballots as a weapon against Trump. He alone has expressed disgust at the cynical establishment strategy of denying the frontrunner the nomination by any means necessary. He has, in fact, correctly predicted that a contested convention that steals the win from Trump will lead to a “revolt.”
To some degree, you can argue that Cruz is the only candidate who has the luxury of believing in his own campaign. With nine victories under his belt, his claim that he’s the last man who stands a chance against Trump is more than political propaganda. It’s obvious that Trump is the one with the excitement in his corner, but Cruz is the only other contender whose fans genuinely want to see him take the White House. They believe in his hardline conservative message, they believe his debate-stage skills will fare well against Hillary Clinton, and they aren’t buying into the accusations of deception being thrown at him by his competition.
But there’s something else that hasn’t gotten a lot of attention, and it might explain this bizarre election cycle better than anything else. There is an intangible quality to Donald Trump that voters are drawn to. The “it factor,” if you will. And with the possible exception of Chris Christie, he’s been the only candidate on stage to possess it. Rubio is a smooth talker, but everything he says comes off as rehearsed. Bush was a charisma vacuum. Carson has a certain low-key magnetism, but this wasn’t the year for calm and quiet.
Cruz is not quite at Trump’s level when it comes to bombast, but his speeches are imbued with an undeniable vein of passion and integrity. Coupled with a long record of conservatism, he comes across as a man who will stop at nothing to take the Republican Party back from its anemic leadership. And his refusal to join Rubio and Romney and the rest of the establishment in a coup against the American people proves that he won’t let personal ambition get in the way of his principles.
At this point, a Cruz nomination would be a stunning upset. But his victory, no matter how unlikely, would be well deserved.