I understand Allahpundit’s concern, here:
Nominate a guy like [Ted] Cruz and he can spend the entire campaign pandering to the middle since conservatives feel 100 percent sure he’ll govern as a conservative in office. Obama benefited from the same logic on the left six years ago: He could reassure Rick Warren and evangelicals that he believed in traditional marriage with nary a peep from his progressive base because none of them thought he was serious. He was a loud and proud liberal, no matter he said in his attempt to get elected. He’d support gay marriage later even if he couldn’t support it sooner. Cruz will have that same advantage from the right. Will anyone else have it, though? Even conservative candidates like Rick Perry and Bobby Jindal, I think, might feel pressure to out-Cruz Cruz in the primaries by tacking further right than they’d prefer. I’m not sure anyone except him is above suspicion by grassroots righties.
…but he’s forgetting one important mitigating factor. There are, in fact, two ways to reassure the conservative base that Candidate X is reliable:
- Consistently operate and act in accordance with a conservative, small-government, pro-liberty set of principles.
- Acquire a truly impressive Lefty enemies list, preferably with most of them still groaning feebly from their metaphorical beating.
Scott Walker is the most obvious answer, there – but to use Allahpundit’s examples: Rick Perry and Bobby Jindal have both spent a profitable couple of terms smacking around progressives. The Left didn’t even really try to put a candidate up against Jindal, and progressives had to resort to attacking Perry in the courts because he refused to accept that an entitled, out-of-control drunk should be a county district attorney. And we got more governors sitting in back, if we need them (either for Presidential or Vice Presidential runs). Rick Snyder turned Michigan into a right-to-work state, and he got away with it. Nikki Haley just romped to re-election in South Carolina, sometimes fighting her own party along the way. Heck, even John Kasich is a good deal more lustrous now than he was before: ridiculously lopsided victories can do that for a man (even one who did Medicare expansion)*. And there are others.