Can Ted Cruz Be Trusted?

Vince Coglianese Editorial Director
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AMES, Iowa — Glenn Beck gave an impassioned speech on behalf of [crscore]Ted Cruz[/crscore] this past Saturday, encouraging a rally of caucus-goers to check the box for Cruz.

Cruz, of course, ended up winning the Iowa caucuses Monday night, but as I was standing there listening to Beck’s pitch, I was struck by his first impression of the Texas senator.

“When I met Ted, he came into my studios and, you know, he talks like every politician, says a lot of great things, and I looked at him,” Beck recounted, “I looked at the guys who work with me. We all sat there and talked and thought, ‘He sounds really good, but I don’t think I trust him.’ And I told him.”

Whoa. That’s a dangerous way to rally support from voters who are just getting acquainted with a candidate.

Beck went on to say that Cruz has since proven to be a man of his word, and has earned the radio host’s trust — as well as his first-ever candidate endorsement.

But Beck can’t be alone in initially questioning Cruz’s intentions. The lawmaker’s demeanor has a way of triggering the same Spidey senses I get when I’m trying to protect my family from unscrupulous salesmen.

The squinting, the dramatically exhaled phrases, the hand that keeps fully disappearing into his pocket after every sentence — it all adds up to one shady-looking dude. He’s a political televangelist, chock-full of urgent apocalyptic warnings and only one surefire solution: making Ted Cruz president of the United States.

Cruz’s campaign has to be aware of how their candidate comes across. “TRUSTED” — “TRUS” in white, “TED” in red — is now a permanent fixture at the Republican’s campaign stops and in his campaign advertising, urging voters to set aside that hesitancy and make Cruz a part of their lives.

But if honesty is the image Cruz wants to project, he hasn’t done himself any favors lately. In fact, his campaign has been fighting dirty.

In the days ahead of the caucuses, some Iowans began receiving mailers accusing them and their neighbors, by name, of “VOTING VIOLATION[s]” for failing to vote in past elections. Those mailers, which included completely invented letter grades, were part of a pressure tactic by the Cruz campaign — so noted on the flyers — meant to shame the addressee into caucusing.

The tactic worked, apparently — 23 percent of first-time caucus-goers voted for Cruz.

Then there’s the matter of Cruz’s campaign using the official speech time before Iowans cast their ballots to tell them that Dr. Ben Carson was dropping out, and would be a waste of their vote. That wasn’t true. Just imagine Carson’s surprise when he found out. I’m guessing the good doctor appeared fully awake for the first time in months.

Cruz’s campaign has since defended sending the “VOTING VIOLATION” forms as a tried and true strategy, and Cruz himself apologized for sabotaging Carson’s caucus support.

But neither case suggests integrity is Cruz’s strong suit. And that could create a big opening for Cruz’s top opponents, who are aggressively pursuing his downfall ahead of next week’s New Hampshire primary.

For example, Carson has accepted Cruz’s apology, but is now asking voters to judge the Texan by his actions. “By their fruit you will know them,” Carson said Wednesday.

As a first-term senator, Cruz has made few friends. And so far, he has made an asset out of his bad relationships in Washington, D.C. “The Washington Cartel,” as Cruz calls beltway denizens, is America’s favorite punching bag.

At some point, it might just be worth figuring out exactly why he’s so hated. Is it because he loves America so much more than his selfish colleagues? Perhaps.

But allow me to use an embarrassing analogy. If you’ve ever watched a few episodes of ABC’s “The Bachelor,” you’ll know that there’s always a girl who appears downright angelic when she’s in her suitor’s company, but the second she’s back behind closed doors with her fellow contestants, she’s a nightmare.

“We want you to be cautious about Courtney,” one woman warned Bachelor Ben Flajnik in a recent season. “Just tread lightly,” another added. Concerned about the warnings, Ben pulled Courtney aside to get her take.

I’m not here to make friends, Courtney replied, I’m here for you. Courtney would go on to win the show, and Ben’s proposal.

The pair broke up a few months later.

It’s a lot harder to break up with the president.