After Super Tuesday, Republicans despair: either they vote for Donald Trump because their soul already looks like Chris Christie’s face, or they despair because Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio face a prisoner’s dilemma that keeps Trump on top even though he’s only getting 35 percent of the vote.
Even though Cruz has been stopping Trump already, there’s another, more sure solution: Ted Cruz for president, Marco Rubio for vice president. Here’s why:
1) A Cruz-Rubio ticket would unify the GOP and win the primary.
If the coalitions supporting Trump, Cruz, and Rubio were arranged in a Venn diagram, Cruz’s circle has the overlap necessary to bridge the gap – which is why Cruz has beaten Trump four times (or five, given that Cruz also beat Trump in Minnesota).
I often hear Rubio supporters at my law school say they don’t really know any Trump supporters. That may be because Rubio’s supporters are largely suburban, college-educated, and optimistic about the future. Trump’s supporters are largely lower income, less educated, and pessimistic about the future. Cruz’s supporters bridge those groups, spanning geographic, income, and education indices. They share both the anger and the hope of “reigniting the promise of America.”
Participants in the #NeverTrump movement seem to generally favor Rubio, while the entire appeal of Trump is that he will oust the very insiders who have dutifully lined up behind Rubio. Leaving Cleveland with either Trump or Rubio at the top of the ticket risks infuriating the group left out.
This means Cruz is the GOP’s best shot at extending an olive branch to Trump supporters, channelling their anger about issues like immigration into a credible shot at the White House. Although Cruz has few friends among the Washington establishment, putting Rubio on the ticket could satisfy party leaders who fear Cruz can’t win a general election or govern once he reaches the Oval Office. If Rubio gets out now and Cruz names him as VP, the two could likely combine forces to Make Donald Drumpf Again.
2) For the general election, Cruz has the gravitas, Rubio brings the charm.
Together, Cruz and Rubio would be more presidential and more likable, more authoritative and more welcoming, more commanding and more positive – but only with Cruz at the top of the ticket.
I often hear people question Rubio’s youth and experience. Is he presidential? He’s a first-term senator, and only 44 years old! Christie’s debate attack on Rubio did real damage because it supercharged existing narratives – “I like Rubio, but does he lack the experiential depth to lead the free world?” Rubio on the top of the ticket against Clinton would face the same withering attack.
However, almost no one I know questions Cruz’s experience. Some allege he’s not moderate enough or too disliked by his own party’s insiders to get along, but most people are surprised to learn he’s only six months older than Rubio. Part of this is just cosmetic – Cruz simply looks older and speaks with greater authority – but that’s not all.
Cruz has earned gravitas. He speaks with the confidence of someone who had already reached the summit of his profession – law – prior to ever running for office. He exerted historic influence over the course of the United States from outside Washington, helping secure landmark victories for the right to keep and bear arms, state sovereignty, the Ten Commandments, and veterans’ rights. Success in a pre-political realm is a hallmark of great presidents. Abraham Lincoln was a successful lawyer and Ronald Reagan was an actor and communicator before either ran for national public office. And I would love to see Cruz, the national champion debater and Harvard law graduate, take on Hillary Clinton on the national stage.
Rubio, by contrast, is probably the most winsome and likable politician in Washington. Even progressive Bernie Sanders supporters admit they like Rubio (but would never vote for him). Democrats wisely fear Rubio’s verbal adroitness. While Cruz was winning minds practicing constitutional law, Rubio was winning hearts in local and state politics in Florida. While Rubio’s youthful complexion and demeanor are a double-edged sword at the top of a ticket – charm could be a liability if framed as being lightweight or empty – as a vice presidential candidate, Rubio mitigates his perceived weaknesses and maximizes the strength of his appeal. Cruz-Rubio beats Clinton.
3) Cruz is visionary, Rubio is technical – an effective executive partnership.
A Cruz-Rubio administration would ensure the executive branch has its means and ends right.
Cruz is a genius of political ends. He has been shaping his vision for politics since he memorized the Constitution in high school. He studied under conservative luminaries like Robert George at Princeton, refined his philosophy matching wits with progressives like Alan Dershowitz, and sharpened his thought under intellectual giants like Chief Justice William Rehnquist. And his policy proposals are bold and visionary: repeal and replace Obamacare, fundamentally rework the tax code, reorganize the administrative state, rebuild the military, and reorient American foreign policy from nation-building to leadership.
Conversely, Rubio is a genius of political means. He has spent time with the numbers for entitlements and proposes re-jiggering education and welfare programs with the goal of producing better efficiency. Rubio possesses a delight in understanding the intricacies of different policy silos. Because the vice president is the president of the Senate, his legislative talent could help Cruz pass bills making health care affordable and portable and creating jobs by unleashing the economy.
With Cruz as president, conservatives can trust the White House will stand by founding principles, from securing borders to appointing constitutionalist Supreme Court justices. We know Cruz will keep his word, fight the Washington Cartel, and never give in to special interest pressures.
With Rubio as vice president, opportunity conservatism will have an articulate national advocate, as Rubio shepherds smart legislation through Congress with his personal touch for coalition-building. Let Cruz set the agenda for proper ends, and task Rubio with crafting the means.
We saw the amazing Cruz and Rubio one-two punch on Trump in the pre-Super Tuesday debate. In the White House, no team would be better equipped to make the case for constitutional conservatism than Cruz and Rubio.
So how does this happen? Republicans need to put aside their differences and support a Cruz-Rubio team before it’s too late. Rubio needs to bow out and endorse Cruz, and Cruz should offer him the number two spot. Cruzio needs to happen before the March 15 winner-take-all states let Trump run the table.
Time is running out. Make Cruzio happen.