U.S. Rep. Tom McClintock is backing Ted Cruz in the Republican presidential primary, saying the senator from Texas possesses principles similar to that of conservative icon Ronald Reagan.
The Mother Lode Republican’s endorsement was announced by Cruz’s campaign a day after Cruz claimed victory in Monday’s GOP Iowa caucus. The two exchanged compliments in a press release issued Tuesday.
“Ted Cruz is the only top tier candidate we can be absolutely certain will govern conservatively and constitutionally; who will stand his ground no matter what the pressure and articulate our positions boldly and convincingly to the American people,” McClintock said in his statement.
“Tom is an unwavering leader in working to reduce government spending, reign in our debt and work for conservative reforms,” Cruz stated. “He has consistently fought against the Washington Cartel. We need more leaders like Tom in Washington to protect our conservative principles.”
Cruz, who was elected to the Senate in 2012, rose to prominence the following year for his hardline conservative stances on issues including the Affordable Care Act and immigration.
Cruz is also widely noted for playing a prominent role in the standoff that led to a two-week shutdown of the federal government in October 2013, an attempt to stop the rollout of the ACA that drew heat on him with other Senate Republicans.
The shutdown failed to delay the ACA from launching and severely impacted Tuolumne County businesses already reeling from the Rim Fire, mainly due to the closure of Yosemite National Park — the economic lifeblood of the Highway 120 corridor.
At least one business in Groveland closed as a result of the double-whammy from the Rim Fire and government shutdown, while others claimed to have lost tens of thousands of dollars.
McClintock faced criticism at the time from local constituents who were angry about the shutdown, which he in turn blamed on Senate Democrats’ unwillingness to negotiate.
“He (Cruz) never advocated for shutting down the government. No Republican did,” McClintock said in an interview Wednesday.
McClintock said he’s “absolutely certain” that Cruz would govern by Reagan’s principles if elected president, though he couldn’t say the same about GOP national frontrunner, Donald Trump.
McClintock compared Trump’s popularity to that of former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, whom McClintock lost to in the 2003 California gubernatorial recall election.
“He was a celebrity and said all the right things. The problem is he didn’t mean any of them,” McClintock said of Schwarzenegger. “I worry that might be the case with Donald Trump.”
Nevertheless, McClintock already said he would support Trump if he wins the Republican nomination over Cruz.
“If Trump’s the nominee, I will gladly support him,” he said. “I just don’t have the same level of confidence that he will actually do what he promises.”