Let’s break this down to the true final four. Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Chris Christie are the only candidates left who have a chance of winning the GOP nomination for President. Sorry Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, and all other candidates’ fans. Even Rubio and Christie are long shots at this point.
Now, let’s look at all four candidates and grade them on whether or not they’re (a) true Christians, and (b) conservatives.
Starting from the bottom of the final four, we have Chris Christie. He’s the easiest to dismiss because he’s not a conservative. We don’t need to look into his faith at all. He is as moderate as they get and he doesn’t claim to be a conservative though he does espouse certain conservative ideas.
Marco Rubio is the toughest one in the batch. He claims to be strong in his Christian faith and we have no reason to doubt that. His voting record has been conservative on the standard scales and reviews, but there are a few things that stand out. First and most obvious is the Gang of Eight. That alone disqualifies him from being a true conservative, but if we mark that down as a moment of weakness while his eyes were on the grand prize, we have to dig a little deeper. There are his backers – some conservatives but mostly moderates – who are pulling his strings. That’s important because Big Sugar is one of those backers. They have been since before he was in the Senate and he’s never wavered on supporting them.
Who else is behind Marco Rubio? The Republican Establishment sees him as their only chance of maintaining control over the party if Jeb Bush doesn’t have a miraculous comeback and if Christie can’t sustain his momentum. With the Establishment backing him, all bets are off. One does not secure their backing without big promises to the wrong people. Those promises and his willingness to do and say anything for support eliminates him.
Donald Trump is not a true conservative. He has immigration for which he’s extra-conservative, but on all other issues he’s moderate at best and occasionally even liberal. His tax plan is the closest that any GOP candidate comes to promoting the socialistic ideas of taking from the upper-middle class to give to the poor. His foreign policy is smack dab in the middle between John Kasich’s pseudo-hawkishness and Hillary Clinton’s Neocon adventurism tempered by Barack Obama’s timidity.
We won’t look at his liberal past, including support for many of Democrats in power over the last three decades. Those he has supported include Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and of course the Clintons. He was even a fan of President Obama’s early on, calling him a “champion.” We’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and say, as he claims, that he evolved on abortion, national healthcare, affirmative action, eminent domain, and other areas where he’s been opposed to Republicans in the past.
The thing that excludes him from this list is his claim that he’s never sought forgiveness and doesn’t practice his claimed religion regularly. It’s not within any man’s ability to judge the heart of a believer, but in his expression of faith Donald Trump has been lukewarm at best. No Republican candidate in history has excluded God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit while on the campaign trail as much as Trump. If he truly is a Christian, he doesn’t portray those traits with his actions or words. His casinos alone should be clear indicators of this; he makes money off of the hardships of others. He wins by making other people lose.
That brings us to Cruz. Few would question his conservative values that he has consistently demonstrated in all that he’s done in Texas and Washington DC. His Senate conservatism is well-documented, but many don’t realize what he did as Solicitor General in defending conservatism and faith at the Supreme Court.
As Solicitor General for the State of Texas and in private practice, Ted authored more than 80 U.S. Supreme Court briefs and argued 43 oral arguments, including nine before the U.S. Supreme Court, and has won an unprecedented series of landmark national victories including defending U.S. sovereignty against the UN and the World Court in Medellin v. Texas, defending our Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, defending the constitutionality of the Ten Commandments monument at the Texas State Capitol and the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance.
In regards to his faith, Cruz has been the most stalwart defender of religious liberties while maintaining his own evangelical stances on everything in life and politics.
One does not need to be a Christian or a conservative to see the Statesman-level greatness in Cruz if they simply explore his accomplishments. Still, if faith and conservatism are important, there’s really only one choice among those who can win the GOP nomination.