From the first Morning Jolt of the week:
Here Comes Cruz . . . How Long Until the Rivals Strike?
For the scoffers, Cruz could go toe-to-toe with overt social conservatives like Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum, he’s obviously competing with Rick Perry for the Texas donor base, and he’s competing with Walker and Jindal for the I’m-the-true-conservative-in-the-field slot. At some point he’ll draw the contrast with Marco Rubio as the first-term Cuban-American senator who wasn’t a part of the Gang of Eight. You get the feeling he’s stylistically competing with Rand Paul, too — both young, bold, not waiting in the back benches for a few terms before attempting to shake up national policies. Both launched filibusters from the Senate floor.
The big question will be whether the nascent campaigns of Cruz’s rivals drop their opposition research today or later in the week.
Kneecapping a guy on his big debut day may seem wildly premature and ludicrously hypercompetitive. But our current political and media environment rewards those who don’t hold back.
The Obama campaign and its allies defined Mitt Romney in the early summer of 2012 when the Romney campaign didn’t have the money to fight back. Bill Clinton did the exact same thing in 1996. (It’s not just campaigns that attempt to define candidates, of course. We’re already seeing the “what was Jeb Bush like in high school?” pieces.)
This is the strategy of our era: Define your opponent as quickly as possible, before he can define himself.
Here’s Cruz’s effort to define himself for those voters who only vaguely remember his name: