News and Commentary

Cruz Says He Won’t Get ‘Personal’ With Hillary. That’s A Big Mistake.

Answering a Hillary Clinton supporter who attended Sunday’s Fox News’ “America’s Town Hall” and asked him how he would conduct his campaign against Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz said he would not get “personal and nasty” with Clinton, rather challenging her on “substance and the issues.”

Cruz stated, “In this primary when others have gotten personal and nasty, I haven’t responded in kind. I’m not going to do that with Hillary either, and instead I’m going to focus on substance.”

Delineating clearly how he would handle his likely opponent, Cruz offered:

So, for example, Hillary will talk often about income inequality. I can’t wait for her to do so, because I look forward to turning to her and saying, “I’m very glad that Secretary Clinton raised the issue of income inequality. It has increased dramatically under her polices. If you look at the Obama-Clinton economy, the rich have gotten richer. The top 1% today earn a higher share of our income than any year since 1928. Those with power and influence in Washington have gotten fat and happy, and the people who have been hurt the most are those who are struggling to climb the economic ladder. It’s young people, it’s Hispanics, it’s African-Americans, it’s single moms, its the working men and women, it’s the union member with calluses on their hands.”

It is true that in a debate revolving around concepts and ideas, Cruz would likely wipe the floor with Clinton, as his protean debating skills, honed in arguing before the Supreme Court, simply leave all other presidential candidates languishing far behind him.

Yet for Cruz to eschew attacking Clinton’s character, as noble and high-minded as it is, is likely a great mistake if he hews to the line he has drawn. As Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro has noted, the reason Mitt Romney lost the 2012 election to Barack Obama is that Democrats understand that of the two avenues to attack an opponent, character and issues, the successful approach is to attack the opponent’s character first. As Shapiro wrote in his pamphlet How To Debate Leftists And Destroy Them:

The reason that conservatives lost the 2012 election was garishly simple: most people in America don’t follow politics that closely. What they see about the various candidates is what the candidates say about each other, and what the media say about the candidates.

So, let’s assume for a moment that you’re a typical American voter: you care more about Miley Cyrus twerking on the Video Music Awards than you do about the vagaries of Obamacare. Let’s assume all you’ve really seen about the elections is the coverage in the mainstream press and what the candidates said about each other during the debates. What exactly did the candidates say about each other during the debates?

Here’s what presidential candidate Mitt Romney said about Barack Obama: Barack Obama is not a very good President. He said Barack Obama doesn’t do a very good job on the economy; he said that Obama’s foreign policy has a lot of holes in it; he said Obama has done a pretty poor job across the board of working in bipartisan fashion. But, Romney added, Obama’s a good guy. He’s a good family man, a good husband, a man who believes in the 3 basic principles espoused by the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. He is not someone you should be afraid of in any way. Essentially, Romney’s campaign slogan was this: “Obama: Good Guy, Bad President.”

And here’s what Barack Obama and his surrogates said about Mitt Romney: Mitt Romney is the worst guy since Mussolini. Mitt Romney is the guy who straps dogs to the top of cars. Mitt Romney is the kind of guy who wants to “put y’all back in chains.” Mitt Romney is leading a “war on women” and, in fact, has compiled a binder full of women that he can then use to prosecute his war. Mitt Romney is the type of guy who would specifically fire an employee so that five years later his wife would die of cancer thanks to lack of health insurance. Mitt Romney would take his money and put it in an overseas bank account specifically to deprive the American people of money. The Obama campaign slogan: “Romney: Rich, Sexist, Racist Jackass.”

Now, back to the American voter. Let’s assume you’ve been watching this messaging battle, and now you have two choices: Barack Obama, Not a Very Good President vs. Mitt Romney, The Worst Guy Ever. Who are you going to vote for? Most 4 people would pick “nice guy, bad politician” over Mussolini. And they did. The exit polls showed that on the major issues of the day, Americans agreed with Mitt Romney. They didn’t like Obama’s record on jobs, the economy, Obamacare. But when it came to the key question – which candidate cares more about people like me? – Romney got blown out, 81 percent to 18 percent.

“In this primary when others have gotten personal and nasty, I haven’t responded in kind.”

Ted Cruz, stating that he would not impugn Hillary Clinton’s character, instead attacking her on issues

Cruz is definitely the smartest candidate on either side of the aisle in terms of raw intelligence. But for him to avoid tackling Hillary Clinton’s character would likely hurt him, not help him.