The day after announcing his candidacy for president, Sen. Ted Cruz vowed to build a broad coalition.
"We need to bring together the old Reagan coalition of conservatives, the evangelicals and Libertarians and Republican women and young people and Hispanics and Reagan Democrats," he said on NBC News' "TODAY." It's largely the same goal Republicans set for themselves after Gov. Mitt Romney lost the 2012 election for president; the party even released a lengthy list of recommendations in their 2013 autopsy report, giving Republicans a playbook on how to woo more Hispanic, young, and women voters.
It's a playbook that Cruz has largely ignored; in just a few short years on the national stage, Cruz has already fallen victim to many of the pitfalls the the Republican National Committee hoped to avoid when they released the report. While much of his messaging hits the personable, human note the GOP advised, his policies are likely to alienate more than a few voters.
Former RNC Chairman Michael Steele said he'd "absolutely" be frustrated if he were still at the RNC and saw a candidate that wasn't working to be more inclusive.
"Not only would I be shaking my head, I’d be making it clear that this is the direction the party’s going in and we hope all our nominees are going to go in that direction," he said, adding "that's probably one of the reasons I’m not chairman anymore." He said that the autopsy is a "keyhole to the future" and a conversation we'll see playing out in the party during the primary process.
Cruz and the RNC did not respond to email inquiries about this comparison, but let's take a look at what they've said in the past.
What the RNC said on immigration: “On issues like immigration, the RNC needs to carefully craft a tone that takes into consideration the unique perspective of the Hispanic community,” they wrote, later adding: “if Hispanics think we do not want them here, they will close their ears to our policies.”
What Cruz said: “I think we should use any and all means necessary to prevent the president from illegally granting amnesty," he said last summer, as part of his fight against the President Obamas’ initiatives to prioritize deporting felons over those with families or young immigrants who were brought here illegally as children. His protests against those children – known as DREAMers – helped earn the title of “Deportation Caucus” from the conservative Wall Street Journal’s editorial page.
“Readers may recall that the last Republican in an election year to support deporting immigrant children brought here through no fault of their own was Mitt Romney. A splendid voter attraction that was,” the August editorial read.
Cruz’s blistering opposition to Obamacare will be yet another key barrier to wooing Hispanic voters, as the minority group has the lowest rate of insurance and is the among the country’s biggest Obamacare supporters and polls see it as a key government responsibility.
"I intend to speak in support of de-funding Obamacare until I am no longer able to stand, to do everything that I can to help Americans stand together and recognize this grand experiment three and a half years ago is quite simply not working," Cruz said ahead of his infamous, 21-hour faux filibuster in protest of passing a budget that would include funding for the health care law. Less than two years later, Cruz said he'd sign up for Obamacare as he could no longer insure his family through his wife's insurance at Goldman Sachs.
What the RNC said on gay marriage: “For the GOP to appeal to younger voters we do not have to agree on every issue, but we do need to make sure that young people do not see the Party as totally intolerant of alternative points of view. Already, there is a generational difference within the conservative movement about issues involving the treatment and the rights of gays—and for many younger voters, these issues are a gateway into whether the Party is a place they want to be.”
What Cruz said: “Traditional marriage” is the only kind. He’s supported legislation that would allow states not to recognize same-sex marriages from other states; he called the Supreme Court’s decision not to hear appeals on five state’s gay marriage legalizations (effectively legalizing it) "tragic and indefensible” and in 2012, he said he disagreed with the “statement” he says his opponent made by attending a gay pride parade.
What the RNC said on women: “When it comes to social issues, the Party must in fact and deed be inclusive and welcoming. If we are not, we will limit our ability to attract young people and others, including many women, who agree with us on some but not all issues.”
Indeed, polls show women are more likely to support pro-choice legislation and same-sex marriage.
What Cruz said: “Instead of a federal government that works to undermine our values, imagine a federal government that works to defend the sanctity of human life and uphold the sacrament of marriage,” Cruz said on Monday, a nod to his far-right stance on a host of social issues.
Cruz calls Roe v. Wade a “dark anniversary,” birth control “abortifacients,” and once argued that protecting a women’s right to abortions is “a very real manifestation of a war on women, given the health consequences that unlimited abortion access has had on many women.”
Cruz’s announcement at Liberty University made clear that he intends to prioritize evangelical voters, who are among the country’s most conservative voters when it comes to social issues.
“Today, roughly half of born again Christians aren’t voting," he said "They’re staying home. Imagine instead millions of people of faith all across America coming out to the polls and voting our values."