Remember when Marco Rubio was the 41-year-old Cuban-American heartthrob to the Tea Party brigade who political pundits were speculating would be a potential candidate for the GOP presidential nomination?
That's so 2011.
2013 was the year of Ted Cruz, The Texas-based Senator elected in 2012. Like Rubio, he's also Cuban and has strong conservative leanings. Unlike Rubio, his star appears to be in ascendancy, though arguably he may be less likely to be a serious general election candidate for president in 2016.
Cruz was the human face of the government shutdown back in October that proved to be an utter disaster for the Republican Party. But in an interview with ABC's Jonathan Karl that aired on Sunday, Cruz said he had no regrets.
“I think it was absolutely a mistake for President Obama and Harry Reid to force a government shutdown,” Cruz replied, seeming to momentarily jar Karl (and the viewing audience of ABC's This Week).
“Even John Boehner (R-OH) has said this was a Republican shutdown,” Karl said. “Come on. We’re a couple months away from this. The only reason this happened was because you insisted that Obamacare be defunded as a condition of defunding the government. If you took away that insistence, there would be no government shutdown. I mean, really.”
Cruz said Obama deserved as much criticism for his refusal to negotiate with House Republicans during the shutdown, earning praise from progressives who have criticized him for capitulating to Republicans too many times in the past on big budget deals.
But most polls blamed Congressional Republicans for the debacle, which took a $24 billion chunk out of the U.S. economy, according to an initial analysis from Standard & Poor's.
Cruz' impact on the political discourse was so significant in 2013 that he made Time magazine's short list for Person of the Year. But the Texas Republican surprised Karl when he insisted that he tries to avoid talk about politics in the course of doing his job. “Really?” Karl asked.
“I know that’s hard to believe, because no one in this town does that,” Cruz said. “This is a time for people to stand up and do the right thing. And that's what I'm trying to do."