In 1964, President Lyndon Johnson’s campaign ran a now infamous ad in which a daisy-picking little girl was blown to smithereens by a nuclear strike. The message was straightforward: A vote for Barry Goldwater is a vote for death.
A half-century later, another Texas politician is hoping to frighten his way to victory.
Speaking at an event in Barrington, N.H. over the weekend, presumptive 2016 presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz wanted everyone in the room to know just how awful they have it, declaring, “The world is on fire.” This information seemed to unsettle three-year-old Julie Trant, who was unlucky enough to be in attendance with her mom. The video below didn’t pick up Trant’s reaction, but her comment was reported by The Washington Post:
Cruz: Millions of Americans are realizing this isn’t working. The Obama economy is a disaster. Obamacare is a trainwreck. And the Obama-Clinton foreign policy of leading from behind–the whole world’s on fire.
Trant: The world is on fire?
Cruz: [Turning to Trant] The world is on fire. Yes! Your world is on fire. [Laughs] But you know what? Your mommy’s here and everyone’s here to make sure that the world you grow up in is even better.
You actually have to hand it Cruz. When faced with a confused and startled little girl because of his hyperbolic campaign rhetoric, a lesser fearmonger would’ve backed down, perhaps by letting her know what a figure of speech is. But not Cruz. Not only did he not back down, he tripled down by repeating what he said, exclaiming “Yes!” and then repeating what he said for a third time, but this time personalizing the harrowing message by declaring, “Your world is on fire.”
Cruz certainly isn’t the first (potential) Republican candidate this election cycle to try to scare the bejesus out of people, and he won’t be the last. Belonging to the party that doesn’t inhabitant 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, GOP candidates find themselves forced into adopting the position that everything is terrible and it’s all President Obama’s fault.
In that case, the fact is that it’s Obama’s “fault” that since taking office, unemployment is down, stock markets are up, more Americans can afford health insurance, Osama bin Laden is dead, and the fear and uncertainty that gripped the nation and the world during the Great Recession has all but faded away.
If this is the world on fire, let’s hope no one ever puts it out.
As for Ted Cruz’s pants, he seems to be in no hurry to stop, drop, and roll out of the campaign anytime soon.