Ed. Note: Sen. Ted Cruz met privately with
South Carolina pastors on the morning of April 4,
2015 during his first trip to the state since his announcement of
candidacy. South Carolina Pastors Alliance executive director
Kevin R. Baird, D.Min posted his
observations on the group's Facebook page:
Evaluation of Senator Ted Cruz
As many of you know, I get some access to political candidates due to my involvement in cultural/political issues. Through the years I have provided opinion, commentary, and analysis from an evangelical, Christian perspective concerning public policy matters and candidates for office. Whatever my opinion may be worth, for some people, it gives them a perspective that is helpful in knowing the "whole scoop" and coming to a better decision in these matters. I will try to do this again in this election cycle.
(DISCLAIMER: I rarely consider democratic candidates, especially in national races,, as their party platform endorses abortion on demand and that is a non-starter for me. I also recognize that the GOP, especially of late, has not carried our concerns with any passion. That being said, until a viable third way manifests I will continue to "salt" that group.)
Senator Cruz presented an incredibly strong case to evangelical pastors to support his presidential candidacy. I will eventually support and endorse somebody in the primary process. Senator Cruz may very well be that candidate. The following points I offer are what I consider strengths and weaknesses which any personal evaluation might underscore.
1. Senator Cruz has a solid Christian testimony and comes from a solid, evangelical background. His natural use of our Biblical vocabulary and terms is evident and certainly gives you a warm sense of genuineness. There is absolutely nothing in his presentation that is awkward or uncomfortable when it comes to speaking about Jesus or Christian values. They have family members who are pastors and missionaries. That says something.
2. His family narrative and his father's escape from Cuba is powerful. He understands totalitarianism when he sees it. I left with absolutely no doubt that if elected he will carry traditional, conservative, American values with him into the White House. This isn't "political" for him. This is a core belief system.
3. His wife, Heidi, gave testimony to the process of seeking God for this season of their life. To be honest, for many of us, she sealed the deal to his connection with the Christian community and pastors in particular. Their pastor was intricately involved in the process of prayer and counsel with regards to his candidacy. I liked that. I believe politicians need a "real" connection to a pastor. Her testimony concerning the Lord's place in the campaign was refreshing. She is an asset to his aspirations.
4. Forgive me if this comes across ineptly but his Hispanic/Cuban identity is a plus for me. His story is an American story. He connects with ordinary people and I believe can be the person who navigates some of the most challenging problems our country faces; especially those at the border.
5. He is smart. It is said that he is the greatest debater Harvard Law School has ever produced. His liberal professor, Alan Dershowitz states that he is one of the brightest students he ever taught. What convinced me of his intellect was the fact he spoke and answered questions for over two hours and never used a note and never repeated himself. His answers and interaction were substantive and on point. He easily integrated American history, political theory, anecdotal stories, and statistics. There was no "Potomac two-step" in the room. As a pastor who is at times considered a professional speaker, I walked away impressed.
6. He made his announcement for candidacy at an evangelical, Christian University. For me, that sent a message I was wanting to hear. He is not ashamed to hang out with people like me. This also sent the secularist, liberal elite into a frenzy. I like that too. I want a candidate who is willing to withstand the onslaught of the secular left.
7. He is positive. He is a genuinely "likable" guy. I cannot think of one moment where he "attacked" or named any political adversary or position. Don't misunderstand, I believe he would if necessary, but I sensed an optimism that I haven't felt for a long time. This week has been a tough week for evangelicals due to the "Indiana Betrayal" with regards to religious liberty. Senator Cruz was crystal clear on the first amendment and his resume with regards to the Houston 5 is impeccable. I do not believe that we would have that problem with him.
8. He was clear that he was for abolishing Roe v. Wade. I would have liked more time on this subject, but considering our current GOP passivity in this area I sensed more commitment to this cause. I would have loved to have had a moment to ask what a presidential strategy could be to abolish this atrocity. He was clear that it would take the church continuing to change minds and hearts.
9. After announcing his candidacy, he raised more money in one day than any political candidate in history. The numbers are incredible. That says something. His contributors are people who give $100 or less. Amazing.
10. He was willing to spend two hours interacting with the South Carolina Pastors Alliance. I appreciate that and I hope it sets the standard for all political candidates who came to South Carolina in the future. He was appreciative and gracious and understood the important role pastors play in our country. That certainly was a positive.
If there are any other points from those in attendance you are welcome to put them in the thread below. Overall evaluation on a scale from 1-10......... 9.5