Ted Cruz, the newly elected senator from Texas, is already a star in the Republican Party, despite the fact that he has yet to set foot in the Capitol. The 41-year-old Cuban-American is seen as the type of coalition-building figure who can appeal both to the party's Tea Party base and Latino voters who overwhelmingly voted to re-elect President Obama. Cruz's potential is such that he may already be setting his sights beyond the Senate, delivering a speech on Thursday night to the American Principles Project that had all the hallmarks of a national rollout. Most notably, Cruz said the party does not need to abandon its positions in order to win back the presidency — it only needs to improve its messaging, says David Catanese at Politico:
While [Cruz] warned that Republicans need not abandon their principles in order to rebound electorally, he did suggest the party should retool its rhetoric on economic and cultural issues.
"We need to embrace what I call 'Opportunity Conservatism.' We need to conceptualize, we need to articulate conservative domestic policy with a laser focus on opportunity, on easing the means of ascent up the economic ladder," he said.
While he conceded the party’s harsh tone on immigration was undoubtedly a factor, Cruz cited Mitt Romney’s infamous "47 percent" comment as the main reason the president performed so well with Hispanics.
Cruz went on to say the "47 percent" remark — in which Romney disparaged nearly half of Americans as "victims" who were "dependent on government" — were completely "antithetical to the American principles this country was founded on."
Cruz's focus on rhetoric, rather than a change in platform, is evidence that "the debate within the Grand Old Party has begun to take shape along familiar lines," says Molly Ball at The Atlantic. "Some call on the party to moderate its positions; others insist it only needs to articulate them more forcefully." Indeed, Cruz's emphasis on the party's economic message stands in contrast to the approach taken by the party's other Cuban-American star, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who has also been touted as a possible contender in 2016. "Rubio is running around arguing that the GOP can only be saved with immigration reform," says Dave Weigel at Slate, while "Cruz is telling them not to worry."