Maybe Senator Ted Cruz just can't help himself at this point.
The junior senator from Texas has been angling to revamp his image for a while now, as we've noted before, and Cruz is particularly partial to using Republican attempts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act as the horse he will ride in on, simultaneously saving the day, by repealing Obamacare and becoming something other than the guy who is against whatever everyone else is for.
His last attempt in this vein didn't turn out so well. Instead of being the savior of the GOP, which has campaigned on repeal and replace for years now, he may have inadvertently helped save Obamacare. But still Cruz is apparently gearing up to try one more time to become a key player in the latest Republican effort to ditch Obamacare.
"Right now they don't have my vote," Cruz told more than 1,000 people gathered at the Texas Tribune Festival in Austin on Sunday about the most recent repeal effort.
He went on to explain that he and Utah Senator Mike Lee have been pushing the sponsors of the most recent GOP attempt to get rid of the ACA, senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, to make some changes to the bill to secure the support of Cruz and Lee, but the changes have not been made yet.
Cruz — crafty and playing to the hilt his role as someone who could kill the Graham-Cassidy bill — did not go so far as saying he would vote against the bill. He only said that right now neither he nor Lee are on board with it. Considering Graham and Cassidy have only a few days left to find 50 votes in the Senate to get the bill through, and that Senator John McCain has already said he will vote against the bill, Cruz hinting that he won't support it is sure to grab their attention.
However, all of this could once again blow up in Cruz's face (a thing that has been known to happen when Cruz tries to get tricksy, as we've mentioned before). His move implying that he is wavering on supporting the bill is only truly powerful if Cruz is willing to follow through and actually be the one to kill it. The thing is, if Cruz opts to kill Graham-Cassidy he'll become something that may make his run for re-election in 2018 even more difficult — a Republican who stopped the plan to finally repeal Obamacare. Just imagine what his re-election campaign will look like with that particular reputation hanging around his neck.
But this time Cruz isn't putting all his eggs in one basket when it comes to overhauling his image.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
He also spent a lot of time on Sunday talking up getting relief funding for Houston and the rest of the Texas Gulf Coast devastated by Hurricane Harvey. And Cruz didn't stop there. He also claimed that the federal government will be able to build a coastal protection system and will still be able to build that border wall that President Donald Trump is so officially intent on constructing.
Senator Al Franken, a Minnesota Democrat, appeared at the same festival on Friday and dismissed the idea that there was room for both Harvey relief funding and the border wall in the federal budget, but that didn't stop Cruz.
In fact, Cruz is still clinging to the idea of getting both the border wall and the relief funding, perhaps with the gossamer possibility of becoming the one who ultimately casts the deciding vote to kill the ACA still shimmering in some corner of his mind.
Apparently he hasn't quite learned that you can't be all things to all Republicans. Either that or Cruz will just aim to say whatever pleases the crowd he is front of. Either explanation would make sense at this juncture.