Not even on the previously mentioned regional level? I am asking because I would expect them to pull off less of a “show”, the further it is away from the spotlight.
Your analysis of Cruz and Trump appears to be pretty accurate, at least as far as I am able to tell.
Whether Cruz is deep-down really the true believer is certainly something only he (and possibly people close to him) can tell, but even if, it would be just yet another peculiarity in comparison to European politics. The entire religious theme in a political context is — these days — (almost) unheard of.
Of course, US politicians have to cater to their audience, hence I want to be careful in my judgement but it still simply astonishes me every time I draw comparisons between US debates and discussions and their European counterparts (and here the “European” flavour (country) is not even that important).
Even British debates (being language-wise still the closest) are light years away in style and content.
Another example, the attacks against Sanders in terms of him being a “socialist”. As if this was something bad per se. One does not need to agree with all aspects of a welfare state but deliberately trying to create an aura of negativity around the term “socialist” just seems out-of-this-world. It is almost like socialism is just on par with treason. What makes it even worse is that it seems “they” managed to pull it off (the attempt itself is still even somewhat “legitimate”), the success is the worrying bit.
Again, I do not want to appear condescending, it is just that this well-shaken-not-stirred mixture of statements and buzzwords without real substance very often leaves me a tad speechless. And again², their European counterparts are not more honest (politics has “probably” always been a mud fight of lies and deception) but they seem more down-to-earth.