Last night Ted Cruz won the much-anticipated Iowa caucus, a fact that could mean he will become an even more serious contender in this race or could mean nothing.
With 28% of the Republican vote, Cruz celebrated his victory. "Tonight is a victory for courageous conservatives," he said,
Iowa has sent notice that the Republican nominee and the next president of the United States will not be chosen by the media, will not be chosen by the Washington establishment, will not be chosen by the lobbyists, but will be chosen by the most incredible powerful force where all sovereignty resides in our nation, by we the people.
Analyst's predicted that Cruz's victory would likely be thanks to his prolific efforts in Iowa. Last month, The New Yorker's Ryan Lizza pointed out the differences between Trump's and Cruz's tactics in the state:
In traditional caucus style, Cruz was zigzagging through twenty-eight Iowa counties, visiting four or five towns a day. Trump relies on his celebrity to bring supporters out at large rallies; Cruz speaks to small crowds at Pizza Ranch restaurants and in school cafeterias, and he has an army of volunteers knocking on doors. Working the small towns can pay off.
Reasonable. Cruz, however, seems to think that another force was at work last night—specifically, that a comment he made denigrating "New York values," won the Iowans over. He told ABC News post-victory (emphasis mine):
As I travel the country here in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada, everyone knows what New York values are… it's the values of the elite liberals that have done enormous damage to New York and they're a bunch of cops and firemen and hardworking men and women in the great state of New York who are fed up with the out-of-touch values of Manhattan.
Here, Cruz is doubling down on what he said a few weeks ago during a debate. When asked to explain what he meant when he said that Trump embodies New York values Cruz told the moderator, "You know, I think most people know exactly what New York values are."
Taken at face value, that comment is vaguely rude. But taken with some historical context, the jab felt like a homophobic, anti-Semitic dog whistle. Cruz's words drew disdain from his fellow presidential hopefuls, as well as from members of New York's government.
But Cruz is sticking to this questionable message, and apparently thinks it'll bring him to victory:
It's going to be a long 2016.
A call requesting comment was not immediately returned.
Danielle Wiener-Bronner is a news reporter.