Top conservative: 2016 not Ted Cruz's turn, favors Mike Pence-Rand Paul ticket

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Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets,Books,Republican Party,Tea Party,Rand Paul,Ted Cruz,George W. Bush,Ronald Reagan,Conservatism,Jeb Bush,Mike Pence

A founding father of the conservative movement who is now a star among Tea Party activists is urging the GOP to choose a governor to duel Washington “insider” Hillary Clinton for the White House, saying that 2016 isn't the best time for Sen. Ted Cruz to run.

Often called the “funding father” of conservatism for pioneering direct mail fundraising, Richard A. Viguerie believes that the Texas senator is a “game changer” for the movement but that the best way to beat Clinton is with a candidate from outside the beltway.

“I don't think it would be best for the conservative movement for Cruz to run this time,” said the Viguerie, a legendary conservative marketer who has just published a new book, Takeover: The 100-year war for the soul of the GOP and how conservatives can finally win it.

“Assuming the Democrat ‘product' is going to be Hillary Clinton this time, a Washington insider, you don't want to run another Washington type against her,” said Viguerie, 80, one of former President Ronald Reagan's original kitchen cabinet members.

His pick: Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, a former House member who is winning kudos for his conservative approach to state politics, teamed with anti-establishment Sen. Rand Paul as the vice presidential nominee.

“To many, many conservative leaders, he is the first choice,” Viguerie told Secrets of Pence. And Paul should be the running mate to keep libertarians from splitting the party. “Libertarians are coming back now,” he said, and “we can’t ignore that element.”

And at all costs, he added, the Republican Party must snuff out a bid by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. He called Bush “anti-conservative” and added: “I don't think any conservative should trust anybody named Bush.”

His new book from publisher WND Books builds on the successes of the Tea Party to offer a roadmap to a new, conservative America. “We need to run as many candidates as we can in 2014,” he said. “There is a wave coming.” He should know, operating a sort of early-warning Tea Party news website called Conservative HQ.

His book includes the backing of the Tea Party, with Tea Party Patriots co-founder Jenny Beth Martin writing in the forward that unless the GOP “fulfills its promise and becomes the constitutional alternative to the progressives, I fear the ‘American experiment’ is over.”

In our interview, Viguerie said that Pence is not too conservative to win, and he cheered on other conservative governors to also get into the race.

He explained that Republicans only win big when identifiable conservatives run, such as Reagan in 1980 and 1984, House Republicans via the “Contract with America” in 1994 and in 2010 when the Tea Party emerged. He noted that former President George H.W. Bush won in 1988 on a conservative, anti-tax platform that he abandoned, and son George W. Bush, whose conservative credentials were questioned, barely won in 2000 and 2004.

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com.