Ted Cruz Girds For Mitch McConnell Showdown

Sen. Ted Cruz has found a way to seize the spotlight at a time his campaign for president is losing the battle for buzz.

The Texas Republican on Sunday will attempt an unusual procedural move to overturn Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) blocking of his amendment on the Iran nuclear deal.

McConnell, seeking to move a federal highway funding bill through the Senate fast, has cut off most amendments to the measure — though he is allowing a vote on reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank.

That decision has infuriated Cruz, who took to the floor on Friday to accuse his leader of lying to him.

On Sunday, Cruz needs a majority of the Senate to back his objection to McConnell — a tall order that is unlikely to be achieved.

Either way, it could be good news for Cruz, who wants to cast himself as a fighter struggling against the Washington establishment.

Republican strategists say the floor battle gives Cruz a vital shot of publicity at a time his campaign is being overshadowed by celebrity business mogul Donald Trump, who has soared to the top of GOP polls as Cruz has lost support.

A recent Washington Post/ABC news poll showed Trump leading the GOP presidential field nationwide with 24 percent support. It showed Cruz in eighth place with 4 percent.

“For someone trying to run for a president as a populist outsider and Trump sucking all the oxygen out of the room, this couldn’t come at a better time,” Ford O’Connell, a GOP strategist who worked on Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) presidential campaign.

“It’s something where Cruz can get air time and reassert himself in the 2016 debate,” he added. “Donald Trump is taking away his supporters. They are both running in the same lane right now. If Trump blows up, Cruz is the most likely to be the biggest beneficiary.”

Read more from Alexander Bolton at The Hill

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Analysis & Political Strategy