The essential takeaway from this year’s Values Voter Summit: social conservatives would love to see Ted Cruz as president and Ben Carson as vice-president. For the pro-faith, pro-family, pro-freedom wing, that sounds like great ticket and a winning combination.
In the annual VVS straw poll for president, Cruz won 25% of the vote, Ben Carson 20%, Mike Huckabee 12% and Rand Paul 11%. In the vice-presidential sweepstakes, Carson was the winner at 22%.
So the dream ticket for social conservatives, based on this year’s summit, has Cruz at the top of the ticket and Carson as his running mate.
A Cruz-Carson ticket would win in a walk.
And a Cruz-Carson ticket would make the 2016 campaign the most fascinating since Reagan hosed off the GOP establishment in 1980 on his way to the White House. For a delicious change, it would be the GOP establishment rather than social conservatives who would have to hold their noses and vote for the party’s nominee.
It’s easy to understand all of these numbers. Cruz lit up the VVS crowd with an unapologetic, unabashed, unashamed defense of Christianity, life, marriage and Israel. He’s articulate, passionate, and speaks from the heart rather than from notes or a dreaded teleprompter.
(As an aside, I think Mitt Romney may be the only presidential hopeful I have ever seen use a teleprompter at the VVS.)
Conservatives know that Cruz believes what they believe, and defends their values without backing down one centimeter. He’s extremely intelligent, thinks on his feet, and is skillful in debate and in interviews. Conservatives know they’ll never need to worry about an “Oops” moment with him.
In most presidential debates, conservatives grip the arms of their chairs just hoping against hope our guy doesn’t screw up. With Cruz on the platform, they might actually start feeling a bit sorry for the other guy, who will be hanging in strips from the ceiling by the end of the evening.
Those four million social conservatives who didn’t bother to show up for Romney in 2012? They’ll storm the barricades for Cruz in 2016. And recruit their friends and fellow churchgoers to go with them.
Social conservatives love them some Ben Carson, but have a justifiable hesitation about him in the top spot because of his lack of political experience. But his convictions are solid, he is immensely likeable, and a living, breathing riposte to the baseless charge that Republicans are racists. Multitudes of conservatives would vote for a GOP ticket just because Carson was on it. He could wind up being the biggest asset a presidential candidate has ever had in the number two slot.
With his medical credentials, Carson could make a powerful case for Cruz’s campaign to repeal every last single word of ObamaCare. That’s a winner.
The numbers for Gov. Huckabee and Sen. Paul are likewise fairly easy to understand. Huckabee has problems on Common Core, immigration, and a reputation as a big-government Republican from his days as governor.
Since beginning to dream about the White House, Sen. Paul seems to have begun triangulating his positions on any number of issues, creating confusion about exactly where he stands on life, marriage, drugs, Israel and foreign policy in general.
Gov. Perry’s absence was puzzling, particularly since he has used executive authority on behalf of life, marriage and smaller government more assertively than any other governor in the country. But they can’t vote for you, even in a straw poll, if you don’t show up.
Bottom line: a Cruz-Carson ticket would be a conservative dream ticket. And sometimes dreams do come true.
(Unless otherwise noted, the opinions expressed are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Family Association or American Family Radio.)