It's a tug-of-war seen most recently in the Virginia governor's race that Republican Ken Cuccinelli lost to Democrat Terry McAuliffe. McAuliffe had the support of Republican businessmen who concluded that Cuccinelli's opposition to such issues as abortion rights and climate science would detract from an agenda focused on jobs and the economy.
Candidates can't win "by trying to be priests of purity," said Haley Barbour, who has served as governor of Mississippi and chairman of the Republican National Committee. "In politics, purity is a loser. Purity is the enemy of victory."
Barbour said changes in campaign-finance laws have weakened the relationship between candidates and parties, accelerating the rise of elected officials who show little allegiance to traditional organizations.
"It certainly reduces the need to be a team player within an organization if you are talking about the organization being a party," Barbour said.
Unilateral politicians represent a danger to his party because some of them attack fellow Republicans even when they agree on policy, Barbour said. He cited the fact that Republicans are united in their opposition to the Affordable Care Act and divided on how to combat the health-care law. Many, including House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, disagreed with Cruz's shutdown strategy and warned against it.
"This is about tactics," said Barbour, 66. "Ultimately, and rightly, the leadership decides the strategy and the tactics, and I think Cruz shows us why."
That's a view not shared by the first-year senator. In May, while debating the debt ceiling, Cruz responded to a call from McCain, an Arizona Republican, that he and others trust their party by saying: "Let me be clear, I don't trust the Republicans and I don't trust the Democrats."