Friday, February 19, 2016
By Reed Galen
Candidate: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas)
Location: The College of Charleston
Charleston, South Carolina
Notables: Sean Hannity, Fox News
Mark Sanford, Congressman, Former SC Governor
Phil Robertson, Duck Dynasty
David Limbaugh, Brother of Rush Limbaugh
Welcome to the American Singularity.
Sen. Ted Cruz is in a dog fight with Marco Rubio for second place in tomorrow’s South Carolina primary. Today he came to Charleston, South Carolina for a rally of the faithful. It was a made-for-TV event hosted by Sean Hannity of Fox News. It gave the whole deal a weird sense of herky-jerkiness as they cycled through segments and trouble with Hannity’s earpiece. He padded by describing his brother-in-law as a scratch golfer. Random duck calls, a head-nod to Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson, went off randomly as the crowd twittered through the awkward break.
The thousand or so seat theater on the campus of the College of Charleston was full of Crazy Cruz supporters. They cheered wildly when Hannity took the stage and roared raucously as Cruz joined him on stage. Unlike earlier in the day where Cruz had a half-empty event, today’s crowd was fired up.
Cruz was endorsed by former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson and David (who knew Rush had a brother) Limbaugh on stage. The stage management of this piece of the program was again awkward. They let Sanford stay on stage for about 15 seconds. Robertson spent his minute talking about guns and ducks and Limbaugh talked about the crossroads at which the country finds itself. These three could have or should have been given an event of their own, maybe not today, but at some point during this week’s run-up to the Saturday election. It came off as strange and hastily thrown together
If there was an underlying theme to the event, to Hannity’s remarks and to Cruz’s answers, it is that the United States finds itself on the precipice of making a major change in direction. One, further down the road of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. The other, back to rule by the Constitution, smaller government, less regulation and more personal liberty. Most presidential campaigns are sketched out in these terms. Forward or backward. Right or left. Up or down. Better or worse. But perhaps more than any election since 1992 or 2000, this race actually appears to be a true binary choice and referendum on where the American people want to go.
The Duck Commander Speaketh
Phil Robertson gave what can only be described as a sermon to the Cruz crowd in Charleston. Full of fire and brimstone, righteous language and indignation, Robertson regaled the rapt audience with stemwinders dating back to the founding of the Republic. Citing passages and quotations from George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, the Major Duck Dojo exhorted the people and nation to prayer and to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and savior. He reminded us that we’re all sinners, waiting to be saved. They loved it.
Twenty Six or Five to Four
Whether you agree with Ted Cruz’s politics or not, he is a charismatic political performer. He knows his stuff cold. He knows his issues. He knows his audience. He knows how to create a call-and-response effect with the crowd that energizes the room. It feels much more like a revival than a political rally.
Throughout his presentation, Cruz skillfully weaved together his personal experience as Solicitor General of Texas, a Supreme Court expert and why conservative justices matter. Running through a litany of issues – the 2nd Amendment, Roe v. Wade specifically, Cruz made the case for why he as President would ensure that only a conservative jurist would ever ascend to the Court in his administration. Cruz took the loss of Justice Scalia as a staunch member of the Court’s right wing and turned it into a cogent reasoning for his own nomination by the GOP.