I tip my cap, unreservedly, to Ted Cruz. With everything on the line — and so many GOP colleagues cowed and intimidated — he took on Donald Trump and won. Late last year I wrote that the GOP needed an actual leader, someone who would step up and take on Trump directly:
Now is the time. A presidential campaign is an early test of leadership, a proving ground for dealing with the challenges of the world’s most difficult job. I don’t want the last man standing. I want the guy who took down the king. If Trump can absorb the best shots from the Republican party’s best young talent, then he deserves the nomination. If one of the two talented freshman senators can dethrone The Donald, then at least we have some assurance that they can first stand strong against the coming Clinton onslaught and then have the strength of will to lead a nation desperate not just for wisdom but for the right kind of tough-minded leadership.
Cruz challenged the king of polls — the man who’d intimidated so many others — and he won. And he did so when the conventional wisdom said that he’d lose — that the larger the turnout, the greater the chance that Trump would win. Instead, with record Iowa turnout, Cruz won.
This is a deeply encouraging moment for the conservative movement. To his immense and undying credit, Cruz refused to pander on ethanol, he defied Iowa’s popular governor, and he stuck to his conservative principles — and he won.
Yes, Marco Rubio exceeded all expectations, but tonight was Ted Cruz’s night. There is much hard fighting ahead, but had Trump won, we would even now be shuddering not just for the future of the conservative movement but for the future of a nation bounded and governed by constitutional principles. Cruz stood up when others fled. Iowa rewarded him for his courage, and tonight Cruz is ascendant, Trump is in retreat, and the conservative movement breathes the air of new life and new hope.
New Hampshire represents a different challenge, and the race is far from over, but Cruz deserves the accolades — and momentum — he’ll get from Iowa. Well done, Ted. You did your part for your country on this crucial night.