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Amid media maelstrom, Mike Lee calls Ted Cruz 'kindred spirit'

Published: Saturday, July 4 2015 10:46 p.m. MDT

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, left, and Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, during a news conference with conservative Congressional Republicans at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013. Cruz and Lee stand as the Senate’s dynamic duo for conservatives, crusading against President Barack Obama’s health care law while infuriating many congressional Republicans with a tactic they consider futile, self-serving and detrimental to the party’s political hopes in 2014.  (J. Scott Applewhite, Associated Press) Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, left, and Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, during a news conference with conservative Congressional Republicans at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013. Cruz and Lee stand as the Senate’s dynamic duo for conservatives, crusading against President Barack Obama’s health care law while infuriating many congressional Republicans with a tactic they consider futile, self-serving and detrimental to the party’s political hopes in 2014. (J. Scott Applewhite, Associated Press)

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and congressional Democrats continue to quarrel over what would be a financially responsible path for the federal government moving forward. But even as mainstream media outlets are increasingly jumping at the chance to impugn Cruz, Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, still stands fast with his fellow tea party conservative.

The October 2013 issue of GQ magazine published a less-than-flattering profile of Cruz headlined, “Ted Cruz: The Distinguished Wacko Bird from Texas.” When writer Jason Zengerle recounted Cruz’s backstory midway through the article, Lee entered the narrative at a November 2010 meeting of the conservative Federalist Society.

“Like Cruz, Lee had been a creature of the conservative legal movement, having clerked for Samuel Alito on the Supreme Court,” Zengerle wrote. “Like Cruz, he had left Washington to become a government lawyer back home. And like Cruz, he had never before run for office. But he rode the tea party wave of 2010 into the Senate, ousting an incumbent Republican by running to his right.

“After the Federalist Society meeting, Lee and Cruz took a long walk around the Capitol. ‘We talked about every conceivable political and constitutional issue,’ Lee recalls. ‘I concluded we were kindred spirits.’ ”

Later in the article Cruz, who embraces the term “wacko bird” that Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) once derisively hurled at Cruz, reciprocated Lee’s affection: “It's unclear exactly how many wacko birds are in the Senate right at this moment, but by Cruz's count there are at least three — Rand Paul, Lee, and himself.”

In Frank Bruni’s op-ed piece in the Tuesday edition of the New York Times, the columnist wrote, “This week (Cruz) is blithely putting the lawmakers in his party between a rock and a hard place. If they fail to match the anti-Obamacare passion that he flexed anew in a Senate speech Monday, they’ll land on the far right’s watch list. But if they match it and the government shuts down, there’s a good chance that the Republican Party takes the blame and a hit it can ill afford.

“It’s all the same to Cruz. His own notoriety is cemented. He won’t be a hero to many, but to the few who see him that way, he’ll be a veritable monument.”

For his part, Cruz apparently couldn’t care less about the media’s mounting insistence that he back down from the crusade to defund Obamacare. Monday, Cruz penned a guest op-ed for Real Clear Politics in which he wrote, “It’s time to quit worrying about power and blame and simply do what’s right. … I intend to use every tool available to me to defund Obamacare, and am encouraged by the thousands of phone calls, tweets, and emails that come to my office each day.”

Email: jaskar@desnews.com

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