David Frum, the former George W. Bush staffer and moderate Republican columnist, imagines in an October 25, 2013 story in The Daily Beast how Ted Cruz, the current junior senator from Texas, could become president in 2016.
The scenario involved an economic recession in 2014 resulting in the Republicans taking back the Senate and gaining seats in the House. The Democrats take this as a signal that they should veer even further to the left, which sets up a presidential primary fight between Hillary Clinton and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, though the lefty candidate could also be Howard Dean. While Clinton beats back the challenge, she is a damaged nominee.
As for Cruz, his strength is apparently based on superior fundraising acumen.
“The government shutdown and debt ceiling fight of 2013 may have looked disastrous from a national political perspective. But the dustups nonetheless earned Cruz the best fundraising list on the Republican side. While Rand Paul hesitated whether to play an ‘inside’ game of reassuring Republican donors or an ‘outside’ game of insurgency, Cruz’s fundraising allowed him to bypass the choice altogether, shoulder aside Rand Paul as the conservative favorite, and proceed straight to the main event: the battle against Gov. Chris Christie.”
Unmentioned in Frum’s analysis is Cruz’s popularity with the tea party and other conservatives, who tend to vote out of proportion in Republican primary contests. Also unmentioned is Obamacare, which seems to be in a death spiral, making Cruz’s all out opposition to it all the more prescient.
Cruz chooses Christie as a sop to the moderates and, perhaps, for a regional balance. His subsequent victory in 2016 seems to be more based on the 2014 recession than superior ideas or better debating skills.
Regardless, Cruz wins in 2016 and launches, one presumes, a conservative restoration.