Cruz: The state of the conservative movement is strong
March 16th, 2013
08:27 PM ET
10 years ago

Cruz: The state of the conservative movement is strong

(CNN) - Republicans may have lost the presidential election last year, but Sen. Ted Cruz declared Saturday that the conservative movement is winning the recent political fights with President Barack Obama and Democrats.

Cruz spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference just outside of Washington, and he held the coveted final speaking slot on the conference’s third and final day.

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Conservatives have an advantage, he said, because of the position they took against the Obama administration on drones, their handling of the forced federal spending cuts known in Washington as the sequester and their opposition to the president's health care law.

“Something that hasn’t happened in a long time has happened: We’re winning right now,” he said.

Cruz - a freshman senator from Texas who was sworn into the body earlier this year - pointed in particular to his first remarks on the Senate floor, which came during a filibuster led by Sen. Rand Paul. Paul, a Republican from Kentucky, led a nearly 13-hour filibuster demanding the Obama administration characterize their opposition on lethal drone strikes against U.S. citizens on U.S. soil. The next day, Attorney General Eric Holder wrote Paul that the administration was opposed to that.

Cruz, and eventually other Republicans from both the Senate and House, joined Paul and aided his protest as the hours ticked by.

He said the decision of some Republican senators to not support Paul would cost them their "manhood."

The protest led Sen. John McCain to brand Rubio and Cruz as “wacko birds.” McCain later apologized for that remark.

"I have to admit, when Rand and I first heard that, we thought maybe it was a new kind of drone,” Cruz quipped Saturday.

“But if standing for liberty and standing for the Constitution makes you a wacko bird, then count me a proud wacko bird,” he added.

Conservatives also have the upper hand as the forced spending cuts known as sequestration kicked in. But the perceptions of many are that the effects of sequestration are not as bad as Obama publicly warned.

“The White House is astonished – all of us remember the president’s ‘scare America’ tour where he went all over the country talking about the dramatic consequences,” Cruz said. “The White House was certain Republicans were going to fold under and cave and instead we stood our ground and finally got at least the first small step - and I underscore it is a small step - to reining in our uncontrollable spending and debt.”

Both parties initially intended the cuts to never take effect, though some Republicans saw them as a way to reduce government spending without additional tax increases, such as those included in January’s fiscal cliff deal.

Cruz noted that the cuts were a minute portion of the government’s spending, joking that the CPAC attendees’ meals had been reduced by the same amount – just over 2%.

"Indeed (I) don't know how you're possibly able to still stand on 97.6% of your dinner,” he said. “And I'll always be haunted by the sight of Newt Gingrich's emaciated face.”

Cruz said his party also holds the upper hand on the president’s health care law known as Obamacare. He introduced a measure in the Senate to repeal the health law, which Republicans say is too expensive and will hurt the economy; and in the House, Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan has proposed a plan which includes repealing much of the law.

With many Republicans – including Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus – proposing ways forward for their party, Cruz offered his own plan.

“Number one: defend the Constitution. And number two: champion growth and opportunity,” he said.

He proposed a number of policies popular with conservatives, including abolishing the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Education; construction of the full Keystone oil pipeline; and implementing conservative economic policies, which he said cause the economy to grow faster.

“Obama didn’t learn the lesson from Reagan that if you want to turn the economy arouhd, you cut taxes, you reduce spending, you reduce the debt, and you don’t send regulators like locusts to destroy small businesses and jobs,” he said.

A presidential straw poll of nearly 3,000 CPAC attendees showed he has appeal to the audience, even when the field was crowded with 23 candidates and there was the option to write in additional names.

Cruz scored 4% of the total vote, tying for seventh place with the conservative neurosurgeon Dr. Benjamin Carson, who rose to prominence after speaking at the National Prayer Breakfast this year.

As for Paul, his Senate colleague who led the filibuster? He came out on top in the poll, scoring 25% and finishing just ahead of Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, another top conservative voice.

Filed under: CPAC • Ted Cruz
soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. becky

    Oh great! Sen.Cruz is speaking again. It is surprising that people are gravitating to him because he has his own view of the truth. He likes to stretch it as far as he can. He is bound to bring pain and embarrassment to those in his audience.

    March 16, 2013 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  2. norma jean

    The Republicns are winning just about as much asTed Cruz did this week when he took on Californias Dianne Feinstein!.......He came off looking to put her down royally and instead looked every inch the fool!!!! His example of the first amendment was clumsy and inappropriate.....that he was arrogant made the whole episode fall flat.....he should have stayed home!!!!

    March 16, 2013 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  3. Texas

    They offer the same old crap that lost them the election and with the same wackos plus with the two new tokens

    March 16, 2013 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  4. Thomas

    Sen. Ted Cruz is the reincarnation of "Joe" McCarthy.

    They even look alike .

    Ted Cruz / Louie Gohmert
    Guns/God and Big Gulps 2016

    March 16, 2013 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  5. tagsp0t

    Ted Cruz, a known Canadian, is wrong for Texas. Unfortunately, our state votes for the red candidate in state-wide elections, no matter who it happens to be or what his or her positions are. He constantly admonishes Texans to "pull themselves up by their bootstraps" when he himself has no such experience, having attended an expensive private academy and Princeton instead of the public school systems he hopes to eliminate. While he panders like crazy, he simply has no idea what average Hispanic (Mexican-American) life is like in our state.

    March 16, 2013 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  6. charles hoffman

    the people of texas will soon regret that instead of sending a senator to washington to speak for their interests, they've sent an ideologue who's hell-bent on intruding on the institution with little regard to his effect on his ability to represent his state

    March 16, 2013 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  7. carlos

    send rafael edward cruz back to canada.......the stench is too much.....

    March 16, 2013 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  8. Facts don't Lie

    like most of his ilk Cruz doesn't read the polls or follow public opinion. Please show me a poll where the far right is winning on the issues. Heck even in the gun's rights issues more NRA members support background checks and so do many Republicans. More Americans want a balanced approach of revenue and cuts to balance the budget. But when you live in the right wing bubble that tells you stuff like all the polls are skewed and Romney is going to win in a landslide then you seperate yourself from reality.

    March 16, 2013 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  9. MaryM

    Only in McCarthy Cruzs mind

    March 16, 2013 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  10. plain&simple

    The conservative movement is so strong ,it just isn't very popular with with many voters. At least the Cruz ,Rand brand anyway!!!

    March 16, 2013 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  11. Larry L

    Cruz said Reagan "reduced spending". Really? Reagan spent like a drunken sailor on military initiatives and the debt increased considerably under his administration. Reagan couldn't get past the primary in today's Republican Party – he wasn't crazy enough.

    Cruz also thinks the "conservative movement" is in good shape? Why? Is it because they forced us into an uncontrolled sequester and created an issue out of wildly successful drone attacks? So... stopping all economic progress in America, punishing the families of federal workers, and questioning a military tactic that saves Soldier's lives and kills the absolute crap out of terrorists is good? Cruz is arguably the most radical, right-wing extremist in the Congress and a great example of why the Republican Party is dead. I am so ashamed of Texas.

    March 16, 2013 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  12. mk1

    If Ted Cruz is any indicator the state of the conservative movement is pathetic. Conservatives have long ago driven me and my family out and with the current crop in control, we are not likely to go back any time soon. Personally, I love to see these characters heading the GOP, they are truly a joke and a national disgrace. It will mean the end of the GOP unless the thinkers and the true patriots take back their party. Otherwise they will continue to be more irrelevant than they are at present.

    March 17, 2013 12:27 am at 12:27 am |
  13. Colman

    A complete remake of Joe McCarthy, if there ever was one. What we need now is a good old fashion witch hunt, or book burning. Maybe he could provide the entertainment for the next CPAC rally. All he'd have to do is supply some form of combustible material, put said material on several crosses. Light them up and it's a good bet it would keep this crowd entertained for hours on end. Then they could grab the first person suspected of being less than extreme right minded, douse this ingrate with the fluid and roast them. They'd have memories to share with the grandchildren.

    March 17, 2013 04:52 am at 4:52 am |
  14. carlos murphy

    Life under Regan was horrible.

    Women were literally weeping in the streets and I suffered the most desperate time of my life.

    These guys need to stop believing their own press – life is awful with them around.

    March 17, 2013 06:47 am at 6:47 am |
  15. andrew

    Cruz is typical of a facist neocon chanelling Joe Mccarthy...It is so apparent and disgustingly obvious that he wants nothing n=but fame and power ...yet he is nothing more than a pathetic wannabe as he is dressed down by Feinstein and dexervedly so. The GOP has branded itself as a party with nothing but whiners, naysayers and liars. Let us hope they are ALL voted out come next election..for the sake of our Country.

    March 17, 2013 07:30 am at 7:30 am |
  16. JD

    This article is an excellent point on why the gop is failing in every aspect. Cruz states they are winning the battles against the President and Democrats. Let's break this down in kiddie talk so the gop can understand it. The majority of America voted overwhelmingly for the President and those Democrats to run our country. They were sick and fed up with the party of NO and their ideas. They didn't see any acceptable rapes going on and they did not want a Mormon in office! So that means that if a child asks their mama can they have ice cream and she says no, they then ask their daddy and he says no, that's a majority. If the child still eats ice cream anyhow, they will be punished by having things taken away from them. In the gop's life those things taken away are, their respect, their ideas, their positions in gov't, etc...... So go ahead on Cruz and spew off at the mouth, 2014 awaits your future!

    March 17, 2013 08:02 am at 8:02 am |
  17. Hap

    Yeah that's the ticket, be more conservative. It's been working so well for you. Now that you have kicked the moderate voices out of CPAC you can get together, spew the same crazy message and act like that's what every republican wants. Really, Ted and Paul are your new faces, good luck with that. Dem's will actually help you spread your message of selfishness, greed, cold blooded heartless cuts to seniors, and dumbed down childeren. All so rich people can keep their money because they create the jobs. Been waiting for that to pan out for 30 years now. We need to invest in America now because rich people don't build roads, power grids, water supplies, railroads, airports, sea ports, bridges, and communication sytems, thats their entitlement system.

    March 17, 2013 08:11 am at 8:11 am |