Web Video: How Sarah Palin and the Tea Party Helped Ted Cruz Win in 2012

Jan. 19, 2016 AT 8:41 p.m. EST
In the summer of 2012, Sarah Palin's endorsement helped fuel tea party-backed, first-time candidate Ted Cruz to an upset victory in the Republican Senate primary in Texas. Now four years later, Cruz is running a campaign for the Republican presidential nomination and had hoped to win Palin's endorsement again, but on Tuesday the 2008 Republican vice-presidential nominee announced her support of GOP frontrunner Donald Trump less than two weeks before the Iowa caucuses. What fueled Cruz's come from behind victory in Senate campaign? As The Washington Post's Karen Tumulty explained on Washington Week, "If all the barometric indicators are just right, [the tea party] can cause a real storm."

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Notice: Transcripts are machine and human generated and lightly edited for accuracy. They may contain errors.

MS. IFILL: Increasingly there are new faces who want Washington to do less, actually, not more.

The latest is Texas Republican Senate Nominee Ted Cruz, who, with tea party support, came from behind to win and defeat Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst this week.

MR. CRUZ: Tonight is a victory for the grassroots. (Applause.) It is a testament to Republican women, to tea party leaders, and to grassroots conservatives.

MS. IFILL: So what this the return of the tea party, Karen, or was it never gone?

MS. TUMULTY: Well, it was certainly a big victory for the tea party because, you know, Ted Cruz was their candidate and his victory was extraordinary. He defeated – he defeated David Dewhurst, who has been the lieutenant governor of Texas for almost a decade, who outspent Ted Cruz by about two to one, who put $11 million of his own money into the race.

MS. IFILL: Who was endorsed by Governor Rick Perry.

MS. TUMULTY: Well, and that’s part of the issue, but this – there was a lot going on in this race. There was the tea party support. But there was also a lot of this kind of outside money that we have seen coming since the Citizens United decision, specifically an organization, an anti-tax organization called Club for Growth, which is not an anti-establishment organization, put in $5.5 million, which really helped to level the playing field a little bit.

Ted Cruz also benefited from the fact that this election date was delayed not once but twice, thanks to court action over redistricting. And finally, I think what a lot of people in the state understand, but people outside didn’t, that there is something of a family feud in Texas between what could sort of loosely be described as the old Bush organization and the organization of Rick Perry. And this was really the revenge of the Bushites.

Ted Cruz was – had been part of the Bush administration. He’d never run for office before he’d been Texas solicitor general, but he did have a lot of support from people who were aligned with the Bush operation, as opposed, which is – there’s a lot of tension between them and Rick Perry, the governor’s operation, which is what David Dewhurst was part of.

MS. WALTER: So how does Ted Cruz, a guy who was the attorney general, get to be the outsider and the grassroots candidate? How does that – and what is – what does that say about what is the tea party?

MS. IFILL: You know, that’s a good question because in Indiana was the state treasurer who rose up. There are all these folks, many of the folks –

MS. TUMULTY: But the solicitor general in Texas is not an elected job. I mean, this guy could never run a race before. You know, but the tea party is really sort of interesting, because it’s not really a party and in many ways, it’s not even an organization. I sort of compare it to a weather system. I mean, if the – (laughter) – if all the barometric indicators are just right, it can cause a real storm. And that’s certainly what happened here.


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