The results of the Republican and Democratic primaries in New Hampshire set the stage for a showdown in South Carolina but also send an unmistakable “wake-up call” to to the political establishment in both parties.
The outsiders had a very good night Tuesday. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, and Donald Trump scored landslide wins respectively and Sen. Ted. Cruz, R-Texas, defied expectations by finishing in third place.
While getting less than a third of Trump’s vote total, Cruz still edged Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who had been expected to finish second in New Hampshire. He also bested Jeb Bush, despite being outspent $36 million to $800,000.
As the race shifts to the Palmetto State, Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., says the voting thus far shows people in both parties are fed up with business as usual.
“Not only Trump’s victory but Bernie Sanders’ victory underscores the frustration that most Americans have with Washington, D.C. They know our country is headed in the wrong direction, that Washington, D.C. is broke. They’re just desperate to find someone who’s saying, ‘Let’s turn over the apple cart and start all over again,'” said Meadows.
“People want straight talk. They want somebody to be able to tell it like it is. Even if they don’t agree on some of the issues, they’re going to reward those who call it like it is. That’s why we’re seeing Donald and Bernie and Ted Cruz perform so well,” said Meadows.
While those three candidates may be light years apart ideologically, Meadows says they are tapping into the same disgust.
“When you calculate all of their votes, it ought to give Washington, D.C., a real wake-up call in terms of the job that they’re doing,” said Meadows.
Meadows is the second-term lawmaker who filed the motion to vacate the speaker’s chair in the House of Representatives last year, a move that ultimately triggered the resignation of House Speaker John Boehner. Meadows is endorsing Cruz in the 2016 campaign.
As the remaining Republicans tangle vie for the nomination, Meadows says the outsiders have a distinct advantage over the candidates considered more acceptable to party leaders.
“It’s important for us to return the government to the people and to the will of the people and restore that confidence and trust. It’s going to be difficult for anybody who is running in the establishment lane to accomplish that,” said Meadows, referring to Rubio, Bush and Gov. John Kasich, R-Ohio.
Some advocates for the likes of Trump and Cruz believe that the jumble in the middle of the GOP pack in New Hampshire is good for the outsiders because it will now be weeks or longer before the top establishment candidate emerges.
“I look at it very differently. The quicker we can get down to two or three candidates and look at each one of them on their own merits, the easier it is to focus on the strengths and weaknesses of each potential presidential nominee,” said Meadows.
But just as one establishment candidate may ultimately emerge, either Cruz or Trump has to eventually elbow the other out of the race. Meadows says Cruz is the right choice.
“It’s one thing to talk the talk. It’s another to walk the walk,” said Meadows. “He’s been in the fight. He’s not only willing to say it on the campaign trail, but I’ve seen him actually do it here in Washington, D.C., and has come under tremendous ridicule. Whether it’s in front of a camera or behind the scenes in a private office, Ted Cruz is the same guy.”
“He’s someone who’s willing to fight to restore our constitutional principles and, with that, make sure the voice of the American people is the number one priority here in Washington, D.C.,” said Meadows.
South Carolina polls conducted in January suggest Trump had a sizable lead at the time. More polls will come soon, but Meadows is confident Cruz will do well.
“I know Sen. Cruz has a great ground game there that has been in place for many many months and has been reaching out on a one-on-one basis all over the state,” said Meadows, who will work on behalf of Cruz in South Carolina.
As for the general election, Meadows is again defying conventional wisdom by rejecting the nation that Sanders would be easier for the Republican nominee to beat given his open embrace of “Democratic socialism.”
He believes Hillary Clinton is very vulnerable.
“I think if Hillary is the nominee, the baggage that she brings makes her a greater drag on that Democratic side of the aisle than anybody else,” said Meadows.