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McNeely: Ted Cruz's blind ambition

Dave McNeely

Dave McNeely

Ted Cruz may be many things, including the junior Republican U.S. senator from Texas. But shy he is not.

Ambitious — as demonstrated by his grandstanding during the recent deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol — definitely, especially in an elbowing match with equally ambitious Josh Hawley, Missouri’s junior Republican U.S. senator.

On Dec. 30, Hawley said in a statement:

“I cannot vote to certify the Electoral College results on January 6 without raising the fact that some states, particularly Pennsylvania, failed to follow their own state election laws.”

He complained of “the unprecedented effort of mega corporations, including Facebook and Twitter, to interfere in this election, in support of Joe Biden.”

“Congress should investigate allegations of voter fraud and adopt measures to secure the integrity of our elections” — but so far hasn’t, Hawley said.

Cruz, attempting to boost his plan to run for president in 2024 and curry favor with backers of President Donald Trump, scrambled to get out in front.

Cruz joined Hawley in protesting the usually calm congressional affirmation of the Electoral College finding that Democrat Biden had handily won the 2020 presidential election.

On Jan. 2 — a Saturday — Cruz tweeted that he, and a few other Republican senators, want a study of the voting process.

“… (W)e intend to vote on January 6 to reject the electors from disputed states as not ‘regularly given’ and ‘lawfully certified’ (the statutory requisite), unless and until that emergency 10-day audit is completed,” Cruz’s tweet quoted from the group’s letter.

In a case of ironically deserved bad timing, Cruz learned on Jan. 3 that while he was tweeting about his commission to investigate the election Trump claimed was rigged, Trump had been on the phone to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

In his call, that turned out to have been recorded, Trump complained about his narrow loss in Georgia.

“Trump alternately berated Raffensperger, tried to flatter him, begged him to act and threatened him with vague criminal consequences if the secretary of state refused to pursue his false claims, at one point warning that Raffensperger was taking ‘a big risk,’ ” reported The Washington Post, which obtained a tape of the call.

Raffensperger and his office’s general counsel rejected Trump’s debunked conspiracy theories and said Biden’s 11,779-vote victory was fair and accurate, the Post reported.

Trump dismissed their arguments.

“The people of Georgia are angry, the people of the country are angry,” Trump insisted. “And there’s nothing wrong with saying, you know, that you’ve recalculated.”

“Well, Mr. President,” Raffensperger responded, “the challenge that you have is, the data you have is wrong,” The Post reported.

At another point, according to the newspaper’s report, Trump said:

“So look. All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. Because we won the state.”

So, this was part of the election that Cruz wanted to help Trump win — or at least, demonstrate to Trump’s supporters that he had tried to save their hero.

Cruz went ahead and dug in.

And then, on Jan. 6, while the Congress was assembled to ceremoniously count the Electoral College results, Trump addressed a large rally of supporters he had invited for a “Save America March.”

“We’re going to have to fight much harder” against “bad people.” Trump said

“We’re going to walk down to the Capitol,” and “cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women,” — but not some of them, Trump said — “because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength.”

“If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore,” Trump told the crowd. “We’re going to walk down, and I’ll be there with you. ... We are going to the Capitol.”

And then as the angry mob headed off to the Capitol in what rapidly became a chaotic assault on Congress, Trump headed back to the White House to watch the violence on TV.

The rioters stormed the Capitol, and alarmed members of Congress escaped to holding rooms. And after the rioting finally subsided, and Congress reconvened, the senators who opposed certifying the vote had dwindled to about half a dozen — including Cruz and Hawley.

Beto O’Rourke, the former El Paso Democratic congressman who in 2018 fell short of overcoming Cruz’s election to a second term, emailed his supporters what conservative columnist George Will had written after the riot:

“(The) three repulsive architects of Wednesday’s heartbreaking spectacle — mobs desecrating the Republic’s noblest building and preventing the completion of a constitutional process — must be named and forevermore shunned,” Will wrote.

“They are Donald Trump and Sens. Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz.”

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— Dave McNeely is an Austin-based columnist who covers Texas politics. His column appears Thursday.

Today's Bible verse

“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a person sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will reap destruction from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit.”

Galatians 6:7-8

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