Ted Cruz, Invoking Reagan, Angers GOP Colleagues but Wins Fans Elsewhere

Texas Senator Is a Tea-Party Favorite.

Rushing to an afternoon vote last month, Sen. Ted Cruz hopped the underground tram to the U.S. Capitol from his office across the street.

The Texan planted his black ostrich cowboy boots in the middle of the small subway car without getting so much as a nod from the other senators—Republican or Democrat—amiably chatting or huddled in their seats.

Mr. Cruz finds himself standing alone a lot these days. His response to the cold shoulders: “The establishment despised Ronald Reagan” before he became president, “but the people loved him.”

For the 43-year-old Republican, the Reagan name illuminates his political life’s fundamental dichotomy: Many senators from his own party mistrust and dislike him, but many conservatives elsewhere worship him.

He lives that contrast daily. Moving into the vast congressional hallway that afternoon, he attracted a burst of adulation from tourists. “Ted Cruz, I love you!” shouted a Massachusetts father, William Harvey, there with his young daughter. “President Cruz in 2016!”

Mr. Cruz’s quest to position himself as a latter-day Reagan has led him to defy his party’s elders on handling issues such as debt and health care, and to become the national face of last fall’s government shutdown. His methods have led political rivals to brand him as an extremist and made him the target of talk-show lampoonings.


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