Senator Ted Cruz said Friday that he believes the 2020 presidential election is a “coin flip” that President Donald Trump could “absolutely” lose amid growing anger from Democrats across the country. However, Cruz avoided explicitly saying that Trump’s attacks on congresswomen of color could hurt his chances at reelection.
Appearing on PBS’ Firing Line with Margaret Hoover Friday night, Cruz was pressed to handicap the 2020 presidential race.
“So you believe that Donald Trump could be defeated?” Hoover asked the senator from Texas.
“Absolutely. I personally handicap the 2020 election as a coin flip; I think it’s about 50-50,” responded Cruz. “I want to see the president reelected, I’m working hard to help the president get reelected and think he certainly can get reelected. But I think we are gonna see staggering Democratic turnout in 2020.”
Cruz pointed to his 2018 senate race, in which he narrowly defeated Democratic Beato O’Rourke by a margin of less than 3 percentage points. Since 1993, every Republican senate nominee in Texas had routed their Democratic opponent by at least 10 points. On Firing Line, Cruz said his slim victory was a “crystal ball for what the country will look like” in 2020.
“And the reason is, look, anger is a powerful motivator, and the far left is pissed,” he explained. “They are enraged by Donald Trump, and it means they’re gonna show up, and the big open question is — Does everybody else show up?”
Hoover asked Cruz directly if Trump’s rhetoric on race was hurting his chances for reelection — a question the senator balked at providing a straight answer to.
“Look, the president regularly says and tweets things I wish he wouldn’t say,” responded Cruz, without addressing the question. “He is not going to change. He is who he is.”
Hoover was undeterred: “But is that going to make it harder for him to get reelected?”
“I wish he would say things differently. I don’t have the power to change that; I can’t change that,” continued Cruz, who then attempted to pivot to policy talking points: “What I can do is what I’m doing right now, which is fight for good policies, which includes the biggest tax cut of a generation —”
“I gonna take that as a yes,” noted Hoover.
Cruz did not acknowledge her comment, and instead began talking about the influence he’d had in getting the president to pull out of a multi-national nuclear deal with Iran.
Hoover stopped the senator: “But the question was does the rhetoric hurt him in his reelection bid and because you didn’t answer it, I’m gonna take it as a yes.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Cruz was asked to predict who would rise from the vast field of current Democratic candidates to eventually become the party’s 2020 nominee. The senator said he did not believe that current frontrunner, former Vice President Joe Biden, would emerge from the crowd, but that it would likely be a candidate further to the left, politically than the historically centrist Biden.
“I think they are just galloping to the left, and I think that will continue throughout this primary,” said Cruz, adding “I think the nominee is going to come from the far left. The three who I would say are most likely are Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.”
Cruz continued: “I think where the Democratic primary is, their energy, their passion, their anger is on the extreme left. That’s why I don’t think Biden will be the nominee, because he’s not where the party is. And it’s interesting: When I say the nominee is likely to be a Harris or Warren or Sanders, some Republicans go, ‘Yay! Okay, that’s great They’re so extreme, we’ll win.’ Look, not necessarily.”