Ted Cruz’s grassroots: The new Reagan Revolution?
October 25th, 2013
11:48 PM ET
7 years ago

Ted Cruz’s grassroots: The new Reagan Revolution?

(CNN) - Sen. Ted Cruz tried to compare his relationship with his favored grassroots Friday with the momentum that propelled Republican President Ronald Reagan into the White House.

The response to the economic malaise of the late 1970s was “the grassroots revolution,” Cruz told a friendly crowd in Des Moines, Iowa. “The Reagan Revolution.”

More than 30 years later, Cruz is trying to ride his own grassroots movement, one built around the Texas Republican’s opposition to President Barack Obama and his health care law. Cruz said the movement is dedicated to one word, “growth.”

Reagan’s policies were the exact opposite of Obama’s, Cruz told the crowd of about 600 Republicans at the Iowa GOP Reagan Dinner. Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley and Gov. Terry Branstad attended the annual event.

Cruz’s speech was all about the grassroots, something new to D.C. that “has official Washington absolutely terrified,” he said. “This new paradigm has been beta tested, unlike the Obamacare website." The paradigm’s first run-through, Cruz said, was the 1980 election that swept Reagan into power.

Part of the allusions to Reagan was likely as a unifying factor as Cruz and other speakers insisted that the “civil war” in the GOP is a myth and that what is really happening in the party is a natural evolution.

Declarations that such a rift doesn’t exist between the Republican establishment and others like the tea party were belied Friday by admonitions by Cruz and other speakers against some of the Republican leaders, especially in the Senate, who did not hold firm on Cruz’s efforts to defund Obamacare.

Cruz’s keynote speech was part of a two-day swing through Iowa for the freshman senator and is the third time he has travelled to the state of 3 million in the past three months. He received a warm welcome, with local speakers praising his “principled leadership” during the partial government shutdown.

For Cruz, that principle means running one direction and one direction only in elections. He admonished against wisdom that says Republicans run to the conservative right in primaries and then to the moderate left in the general election.

“What complete poppycock,” Cruz said. Candidates who do that, he said, “destroy any reason someone has to show up and vote.”

In addition to Friday’s speech, Cruz will speak at Republican Rep. Steve King's 6th Annual Defenders of Freedom event in Le Mars, Iowa. Cruz will be King’s guest at the congressman’s Col. Bud Day Pheasant Hunt Saturday. Cruz goes hunting several times a year, he recently told the Des Moines Register.

Presidential ambitions?

Cruz’s frequent trips to Iowa, a crucial early Republican caucus state, have helped fuel speculation that he is planning a 2016 presidential bid. The former Texas solicitor general has repeatedly demurred on his intentions.

Asked recently by CNN's Dana Bash when he plans to make his 2016 intentions known, Cruz said his focus is "entirely on the U.S. Senate." The reason he travels to other states, he said, was to "to energize and activate the grassroots of the American people."

The Iowa crowd and others like it have become Cruz’s preferred audience as he continues to form his anti-establishment tea party credentials.

Rising poll numbers among conservative voters show Cruz already well on his way to firmly ensconcing himself as a man off the anti-Washington people, after helping push the government into a 16-day partial shutdown when he attached a bill defunding Obamacare with one funding the rest of the government.

The grassroots

Cruz’s establishment detractors on both sides of the political aisle attacked him for the defunding maneuver, saying he knew all along the move would fail and would be completely untenable to Senate Democrats and President Obama, who vowed to veto anything harming his signature legislation.

But then, Cruz is in Iowa precisely because he’s not appealing to the establishment but rather to the tea party and the Republican base. That’s likely why he spent 21 hours on the Senate floor in the run-up to the government shutdown railing against Obamacare while lambasting Congress’s failure to “listen” to the American people about the evils of the health care law.

“21 hours is a long time,” Cruz told the crowd Friday.

“That's almost as long as it takes to sign up on the Obamacare website.”

The number one reason the defund tactic failed, Cruz said after the shutdown ended, was that Senate Republicans failed to back up their colleagues in the House of Representatives.

The Senate marathon was part of a series of populist maneuvers by Cruz before, during and after the shutdown.

In the months leading up to the shutdown, Cruz traveled the country railing against the ills of the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. During the shutdown, Cruz was one of the more vocal detractors of the government gating off federal parks and memorials.

After the shutdown ended, Cruz declared victory, lauding the 2 million people who signed a petition against Obamacare and saying that he has ruled out no strategy in his continuing efforts to dismantle the law, including another shutdown.

“We accomplished a great deal,” Cruz insisted of the shutdown Friday, elevating the national debate about the destructive impact of Obamacare.

The key to victory in the future, Cruz said, is to be bold. Playing it safe was why Republicans lost the elections of 2006, 2008 and 2012. The one real victory, of 2010, was because the party and grassroots didn’t shy from its principles of growth and freedom, Cruz said.

Keeping your head down, Cruz said, “that’s not how you win races.”

Filed under: Ted Cruz
soundoff (52 Responses)
  1. Tampa Tim

    Cruz is gaining popularity with the brain dead, the bigots, and the rest of the domestic terrorists.

    October 26, 2013 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  2. Tampa Tim

    According to his dad, Ted is the Messiah.

    October 26, 2013 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  3. Tom

    Tampa Sim,

    If you are calling Cruz Cuban then you must feel that Obama is Kenyan. Because, as you are well aware of, both Cruz and Obama have American mothers and fathers that come from different countries. Your "jokes" aren't funny; they're narrow minded and anyone of serious thought isn't a birther. The way you constantly an so easily say it, and how often you say it, really makes you appear to actually think that way.

    October 26, 2013 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  4. rs

    Mr. Cruz's "grass roots" (still bought and paid for by big oil) likely remains with the anti-American faction of the GOP-the TEA Party, which by all reckoning is no more than 25% of the population with huge disapproval ratings. He is the king of nothing.

    October 26, 2013 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  5. rs

    Rick McDaniel
    There is no doubt that the U.S. cannot afford the programs of Obama, which are nothing but hand outs to the public, paid for, by debt.
    Who pays for the subsidies to big oil Rick? Who pays Halliburton? Who pays for the GOP's wanton waste of at least $24 billion in their treasonous little shutdown?
    You THINK Republicans care about the debt and deficit- but like so many other things, you'd be wrong. The debt and deficit has gone up under every Republican since Nixon.

    October 26, 2013 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  6. rs

    If the GOP is really lucky, America will pin the GOP's attempted crash of the economy on Mr. Cruz, and the GOP can maybe walk and say "whew, that was close!"
    However, watching the GOP's antics (especially out of North Carolina) this past week, these guys haven't learned a thing.
    They are as radical as ever, as racist as ever, as crazy as ever, as treasonous as ever, but America is on to them. It will be a long time before anyone with a room temperature IQ or higher takes the GOP seriously on any topic, or as serious candidates for any office.

    October 26, 2013 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  7. ThinkAgain: The GOP owes our nation $24 billion

    @A True Conservative: "Cruz is gaining in popularity.....CNN and the MSM must take him down or he may become a threat to the annointed ones......"

    Not CNN's fault that the truth about Cruz makes him look bad.

    October 26, 2013 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  8. ThinkAgain: The GOP owes our nation $24 billion

    @ak_steve: "Cruz said, "Reagan’s policies were the exact opposite of Obama’s". He is right. Reagan ADDED to our deficit. and Obama has decreased it."

    Not only that, Reagan at least had the common sense and decency to raise taxes (11 times over his 8 years in office) when he saw the failure of his trickle-down economic policy.

    Doesn't it strike you as yet another sign of the mental illness that is rampant among the right today that NONE of them will accept the reality of the failure of trickle-down, supply-side economics? David Stockman, the architect of it, even admits it's a failure – and yet Cruz and the GOP cronies keep saying all we need are more tax cuts for the rich.

    Either mentally ill or actively working for the destruction of the American economy – take your pick, that's the GOP in a nutshell.

    October 26, 2013 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  9. Anonymous


    "There you go again" misunderstanding the Cruz agenda.
    Actually, Jesse Helms is his "mentor". The first politician Cruz donated to, as a child no less, was Jesse Helms.
    He says today "we need 100 more like him"
    But, guess that fits your agenda too.

    October 26, 2013 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  10. Tom

    @think again
    Obama has not decreased the debt. Not one bit. I believe you are referring to the "deficit" which is completely different. That has decreased due the sequester that you hate so much. Perhaps you should do what your name says and "think again"

    October 26, 2013 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  11. Catmandew

    If Obama has decreased any spending whatsoever than why do we keep hitting the ceiling? And as far as big corps not paying their far share tax wise I don't think it's right either. We need a flat tax rate where everyone pays their fair share. No loopholes for anyone!

    October 26, 2013 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  12. Catmandew

    Ted your no Ronald Reagan! Not anywhere near as a matter of fact. You'd have along way to go to be anywhere near him in anyway shape or form!

    October 26, 2013 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  13. Name lucky

    Ted cruz is a frustrated racist,he can never get to the white house,not after what he did to the american economy by defunding it with 26 billion while trying to defund the obama care,all he wants is to humiliate the president,but all his antics are not working,he is such a dumb senator trying to have his own 15 mins of fame.

    October 26, 2013 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  14. Fair is fair

    Obama stole my Jordan's !!!

    October 26, 2013 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  15. G

    you mean the republicans are going to send more jobs over seas-not another contract on American workers

    October 26, 2013 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  16. Marie MD

    This Canadian needs to go hunting caged birds set free to be killed by little guys with guns with Cheney. Make sure he stands in front of him after a few drinks.

    October 26, 2013 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  17. Malory Archer


    Who pays for the subsidies to big oil Rick? Who pays Halliburton? Who pays for the GOP's wanton waste of at least $24 billion in their treasonous little shutdown?


    Additionally, who paid for the five billion – AGAIN WITH A "B" – in TARP bailout $$$ to teddy's wife's employer, Goldman Sach's?

    October 26, 2013 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  18. Independent in Illinois

    Wait... How is Cruz eligible to be president?? Even though his mother is American, wasn't he born in Canada? Are the rightwing, birther nutjobs going to scream & holler about him like the did President Obama? CNN keeps mentioning that he may be gearing up for a run, but isn't he ineligible to do so??

    October 26, 2013 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  19. S. B. Stein

    The problem with Cruz is that he refuses to see anything good or positive on the other side. Once he does, then he will be a better representative of Texas in the Senate. His grass roots group is nothing but yes men that don't understand the other side or even wants to acknowledge.

    October 26, 2013 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  20. Marie MD

    @rick, rick, rick, I don't know what state you live in but most red states have the biggest number of citizens taking government money. They are just too stupid to realize that they are part of the problem because they keep voting for the same people who keep them dumb, clueless and dirt poor.
    This is why teaklans are against education.

    October 26, 2013 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  21. John Galt

    "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.' Sinclair Lewis — Author of “It Can't Happen Here”; first US writer to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature. Cruz/Palin 2016!

    October 26, 2013 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  22. Thomas

    @Rick McDaniel , freedom , A True Conservative .

    Did you three go to the Tokyo Rose school of disinformation ?

    October 27, 2013 12:48 am at 12:48 am |
  23. Bea

    The narcissism of this guy is sickening. Reagan at least was personable. Cruz is despised by most of his fellow senators. The guy is arrogant, unpleasant and far too full of himself.

    October 27, 2013 12:48 am at 12:48 am |
  24. ThinkAgain: The GOP owes our nation $24 billion

    @Tom: I agreed wtih ak_steve, who said, "Reagan’s policies were the exact opposite of Obama’s". He is right. Reagan ADDED to our deficit. and Obama has decreased it."

    Regarding the debt, most of the "increase" is because President Obama put the cost of the Iraq and Afghan wars on the books, along with the cost of Medicare Part D – all of which Bush kept OFF the books (i.e., he LIED to the American people about it). And let's not forget the Bush tax cuts, which were also not paid for.

    In a nutshell, of the current national debt, 63 percent predates President Obama’s arrival in the White House. (BTW, during the GW Bush years, the national debt soared, rising $4.9 trillion, or 86 percent, to $10.632 trillion.)

    All of this info is readily available online, so why don't YOU try thinking again.

    October 27, 2013 01:24 am at 1:24 am |
  25. Anonymous


    Tampa Sim,

    If you are calling Cruz Cuban then you must feel that Obama is Kenyan. Because, as you are well aware of, both Cruz and Obama have American mothers and fathers that come from different countries. Your "jokes" aren't funny; they're narrow minded and anyone of serious thought isn't a birther. The way you constantly an so easily say it, and how often you say it, really makes you appear to actually think that way.
    The difference is: Obama was born on USA soil while Cruz was born on Canada soil.

    October 27, 2013 06:49 am at 6:49 am |
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