Ted Cruz: We’ll ‘turn this country around’
By: Elizabeth Titus
February 27, 2014 05:52 PM EST
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz told tea party activists on Thursday that he is “filled with the promise that we’re going to turn this country around” after legislative fights over drones, guns and Obamacare last year.
The freshman Republican received a hero’s welcome at a Tea Party Patriots-hosted fifth anniversary event for the movement in Washington, where he discussed the three issues.
“If you listen to the media, if you listen to Democrats — although I repeat myself — they will say the fight to stop Obamacare did not succeed,” said Cruz, who pushed to defund the president’s signature health care law in a fight that led to a government shutdown last fall.
“Really?” Cruz said. “Well, I’m a big believer the proof is in the pudding. Last fall, millions of Americans rose up and said, ‘Stop the disaster that is Obamacare.’ … We elevated the national debate of the incredible harms Obamacare is visiting on millions of Americans.”
Republicans’ poll numbers suffered after the shutdown, but the health care law is still poised to be one of the central issues in this year’s midterm elections. Republicans must net six seats to take back control of the Senate.
Cruz joked about senators who underestimated the popularity of colleague Rand Paul’s filibuster on President Barack Obama’s policy on the use of armed drones last year.
“When Rand started that filibuster, a host of our colleagues had no idea what he was talking about,” Cruz said about the Kentucky Republican. But news of the filibuster caught fire on Twitter and lawmakers started returning to the chamber that night, Cruz said. “You’d see somewhat rumpled senators walking on the Senate floor going, ‘The tweetie thing is happening!’”
He lambasted Obama’s response to the Newtown, Conn., school shooting in December 2012. The shooting prompted Senate Democrats to try advancing new legislation expanding background checks for guns, but the effort fell short.
“He could have come out and said, ‘Let’s go after violent criminals,’” Cruz said. “ … Instead he used it as an excuse to try to go after the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens.”
Speaking to reporters after his speech at a Hyatt Regency hotel near the Capitol, Cruz declined to get into specifics about a recent flap in the Kansas Senate Republican primary, in which Sen. Pat Roberts’ challenger, a doctor named Milton Wolf, came under scrutiny for posting and joking about X-rays on Facebook.
Cruz, who upset an establishment candidate in his own primary two years ago, said earlier Thursday at a POLITICO Playbook Breakfast that he is “likely going to stay out of incumbent Republican primaries” but that “things can change in politics.”
“I will confess I am not involved in that race,” Cruz told reporters about the Kansas primary after the tea party event. “… I trust the grass roots in each state to make the decision. Incumbent politicians have enormous advantages anywhere they’re running, and I think every elected official, me included, owes it to the grass roots to make the case on the ground why he or she is standing up for the principles you said you would and fighting for the values of the people who elected you.”