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At the start of the presidential campaign,Ted Cruz told voters he would be the only “consistent conservative” in a crowded Republican field.
Then he confronted the modern GOP — a fractured party, in which each faction has a different definition of what “conservative” means.
To consistently please all of them, Cruz has had to be inconsistent with himself.
Time and again he has shifted, shaded or obfuscated his policy positions — piling on new ideas, which sometimes didn’t fit with the old.
Cruz, for instance, promised libertarians that he would show a strict respect for the Constitution’s checks and balances.
Then, the senator from Texas promised social conservatives that he would scrap one of those checks and balances, stripping lifetime tenure from Supreme Court justices.
He criticized Donald Trump’s plan for mass deportation of undocumented immigrants. Then he seemed to support it. He appeared skeptical of military intervention in Syria. Then he vowed to find out whether “sand can glow in the dark” there.
Cruz’s maneuvering has helped him build and maintain a base of support among the party’s activist class: If Trump fails to win the GOP nomination outright, Cruz could have enough backing among Republican delegates to win it after the first ballot at the party’s convention in Cleveland in July.
But while Cruz’s rightward shifts might have been politically smart during the primary season, they probably would create major challenges during the general election, putting Cruz far to the right of most voters.