2016 presidential contenders are increasingly criticizing the outsized influence of money in politics—in some cases taking aim at the very donors that candidates may need to win the White House.
Sen. Ted Cruz became the latest hopeful to attack that flood of money—in words, if not in action—when he said in a speech on the Senate floor Monday that elite Republican donors were out of step with the conservative base.
“A very large percentage of the Republican donors actively despise our base, actively despise the men and women who showed up and voted you and me into office,” Cruz said, adding, “I can tell you when you sit down and talk with a New York billionaire Republican donor—and I have talked with quite a few New York billionaire Republican donors, California Republican donors—their questions start as follows: First of all, you’ve got to come out for gay marriage, you need to be pro-choice, and you need to support amnesty.
“You wonder why Republicans won’t fight on any of these issues? Because the people writing the checks agree with the Democrats,” Cruz added.
Cruz speaks from experience. One of Cruz’s biggest backers is a New York Republican billionaire: Wall Street hedge-fund magnate Robert Mercer, who has already given $11 million to a super PAC supporting the senator. Cruz also found himself in a dustup in April after The New York Times reported that he attended a fundraiser at the New York home of two gay businessmen where he apparently showed a softer tone on same-sex marriage. One of the hosts eventually called the decision to welcome Cruz “a terrible mistake.”