The old lions of the conservative movement—leaders with direct ties to the 1960 signing of the Sharon Statement by 90 members of Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) at William F. Buckley’s residence—are uniting around the presidential campaign of with passionate endorsements of his candidacy.
82-year-old Richard Viguerie, the pioneer in direct-mail fundraising, makes the conservative political case for Sen. Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign with the vigor and energy of a man five decades younger.
“Ted Cruz is the best conservative candidate since Ronald Reagan,” Viguerie tells Breitbart News in an exclusive interview.
“He’s what we’ve waited for ever since Reagan. He checks all our boxes.”
“He’s everything we’ve wanted in a candidate. He unites the party in a way that no other candidate can,” Viguerie adds.
In 1962 Viguerie, then 29-years-old, was named the executive director of YAF. For more than half a century, Vigurie has dedicated his life to the advancement of the modern conservative movement.
76-year-old Morton Blackwell, founder of the Leadership Institute, YAF member in the 1960s and long time Republican National Committeeman from Virginia, endorsed Cruz last week, saying he “has consistently demonstrated his deep commitment to conservative principles.”
“Yes, I support Ted Cruz,” Brent Bozell III, founder of the Media Research Center, tells Breitbart News in an exclusive interview.
Bozell was only five years old when the Sharon Statement was signed, but he has direct ties to the origins of the modern conservative movement. William F. Buckley, Jr. was his uncle and his father, Brent Bozell, Jr. was the ghost writer of Barry Goldwater’s 1960 classic Conscience of a Conservative.
“It’s clear cut that you are either with the establishment or you are with Ted Cruz. That is the new reality,” Bozell says.
“It is the Republican party that has disdain for conservatives,” he adds.
“Ted Cruz has made virtually all of them [in the Republican establishment] feel uncomfortable. The sin he commits is honoring his promise,” Bozell says. “What they, the GOP establishment, want is unanimity in dishonesty,” he notes.
“That’s why I urged Ted Cruz to run for President. I’ve urged him since about five minutes after he was elected to the Senate [in 2012],” Bozell explains.
It would be difficult to overstate the significance of the Sharon Statement—the principles of which tie all these leaders together—to the growth of the modern conservative movement, as the Heritage Foundation website notes:
In the fall of 1960, some 90 young conservatives met at the Sharon, Connecticut, home of National Review editor William F. Buckley, Jr., where they founded Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) to serve as an organization for young conservative activists. As their statement of principle, the group adopted the Sharon Statement, which was drafted by 26-year-old newspaper editor M. Stanton Evans. Written “at this time of moral and political crisis,” the statement is a succinct summary of the central ideas of modern American conservatism.
Among those principles are the following: Free will and moral authority come from God; political and economic liberty are essential for a free people and free institutions; government must be strictly and constitutionally limited; the market economy is the economic system most compatible with freedom; and Communism must be defeated, not merely contained.
This statement of principles denies the basic premises of Progressivism and liberalism. It also recalls earlier New England declarations about fundamental liberties—for example, the Essex Resolves and Massachusetts Constitution of 1780. While the language differs, the concerns for liberty remain the same over the centuries.
YAF became one of the most influential groups in the history of modern conservatism. In the early 1960s, it would provide the National Draft Goldwater Committee with critical manpower to draft and promote conservative Senator Barry Goldwater in the 1964 presidential election. YAF would also challenge the liberal agenda of groups like the National Student Association and Students for a Democratic Society, support American servicemen in Vietnam, and call for a firm stance against Communism around the world.
In order to turn principles into policy, political tactics are required, and Viguerie offers a clear tactical guide to a potential Cruz victory.
“There are six main voting blocs that comprise the Republican Party,” Viguerie tells Breitbart News.
“Five are right of center–economic conservatives, cultural conservatives, and the national security wing-the three legs of the stool that made up the old Reagan Coalition. Since Reagan, we’ve added the Tea Party and the Libertarian wings,” he says.
“The sixth bloc is the establishment and moderate Republicans.The only one that can unite the party in all 6 principle voting blocs is Cruz,” Viguerie adds.
Cruz is not only right on the issues, he is also the most able candidate Viguerie argues.
“Cruz is our best debater, our most articulate fighter,” he says.
Viguerie notes that Reagan Democrats can play a key role in a 2016 Republican Presidential victory.
“If Trump is not the nominee, lots of Democrats supporting Trump will not be interested in all but one of the other GOP candidates. Cruz is the only candidate running who can keep the Democratic voters with us,” Viguerie says.
“Voters consistently reject establishment Republicans. George W. Bush got half a million fewer votes than Al Gore in 2000,” he points out.
“Cruz appeals to Reagan Democrats. His position on the issues of importance to Reagan Democrats is basically the same as Trump, it’s just that Trump articulates it differently,” Viguerie notes.
“Cruz is there in terms of having the same positions on issues of importance to Reagan Democrats. He has a lot of the appeal Reagan had to Democrats on economic, national security, and cultural issues,” Viguerie notes.
Viguerie is upbeat about Cruz’s chances of winning in November, in part because he sees Cruz as a uniter.
“Not only can Ted Cruz win in November, he’s the one with the best chance of winning.”
“He may be the only one because Trump doesn’t unite the party. Cultural conservatives and libertarians have issues with Trump,” Viguerie notes.
“The number one thing you must have to win in this November election is for the party to be united. They’ve not been united since George H.W. Bush’s election in
1988. The one element Republicans have not had since then is someone who really takes the hide off of the Democrats. In 2016, Cruz is going to peel away those [Democratic lies],” Viguerie says.
“Cruz could win the general election in a landslide,” Viguerie concludes.
Media Research Center’s Bozell agrees with Viguerie that Cruz is the GOP’s best candidate. He also thinks Cruz will win his current battle with Donald Trump.
“There are two big differences between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz that explain why I think Cruz will prevail,” Bozell says.
“First, in every other clash between a competing candidate and Trump it was that candidate picking a fight with Trump. In this case it was Trump picking a fight with Cruz out of necessity,” Bozell notes.
“Second, in this case it is Trump who sounds angry. Cruz is responding with humor,” he adds.
“The more this plays itself out, the more it is being established that Cruz is the real conservative and Donald Trump is a charlatan,” Bozell concludes on the Trump-Cruz matchup.
“[The current political situation] is reminiscent of the 1960s, going into the 1970s,” the dawn of the modern conservative movement, Bozell says.
“The late Henry Hyde had this great saying – ‘conservatives were the great unwashed to the Republican establishment.’ Gerald Ford-Rockefeller Republicans have always viewed conservatives [with disdain]. This is how they viewed William F. Buckley, Barry Goldwater, and Ronald Reagan. This is how they view Ted Cruz today, ” Bozell adds.
“The establishment is putting up the whisper campaign [that a Cruz nominee] will be damaging to the GOP party brand.”
“There were those of us who felt you could not [work with the establishment],” he notes.
“There were some of us who thought until recently you might be able to work [with them],” Bozell points out.
“Can you name one accomplishment of the Republican Party [in the past two decades]?” he asks rhetorically.
“I can point to only two accomplishments—1. Welfare reform 2. Two Supreme Court justices. Besides that, not a single accomplishment,” Bozell answers.
The old lions of the conservative movement are tired of a Republican Party with so few accomplishments.
They appear to be unanimous in their belief that Ted Cruz is the presidential candidate who will change that.