Last week, Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who has earned a reputation for being hated by Democrats and Republican Party elders alike, spoke to a gathering at the Value Voters Summit. The Senator wasted no time criticizing the White House and his GOP detractors, sending a message that he’s on a mission to change the way Washington works to the benefit of conservatism.
Cruz lamented that the Administration of Barack Obama is determined to “violate every single one of our Bill of Rights” and that establishment Republicans have failed time and again to sufficiently push back against the President’s progressive policies.
According to the Senator, conservatives must act now or risk sending the Nation down the road to ruin.
“We can’t keep going down the road much longer. We’re nearing the edge of a cliff, and our window to turn things around I don’t think is long — I don’t think it’s 10 years,” he said.
Cruz blamed the Republicans’ inaction in fighting Obama’s big-spending and unConstitutional policies on establishment politicians’ unwillingness to take political risks to execute the will of their constituents.
“If there is one overall strategy in Washington it is risk aversion,” Cruz said, calling out fellow Republicans who have not stood with him in his crusade against Obamacare. “We went over their heads — to the American people.”
The possible 2016 Presidential contender went on to say that the idea that true conservatism isn’t politically viable is a myth perpetuated by the mainstream media.
“The greatest trick the left has ever played is to convince conservatives we cannot win. The media will tell us that believing in free market values, believing in the Constitution, believing in freedom are extreme views. It is a lie,” he said.
Cruz was joined at the Value Voters Summit by Senators Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), as well as Representative Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who addressed the crowd via video.
Past gatherings of the Summit have featured politicians like former Senator Rick Santorum, who, unlike Cruz and Paul, paid far more lip service to issues close to the hearts of evangelical Christians. The inclusion of speakers who are less interested in moral crusading and more interested in protecting the values of Christian conservatives through small government could represent a shift that will allow Republicans to gain more appeal among nonreligious voters in coming elections, while still satisfying those conservatives heavily concerned with social issues.
“This is not a fundraiser, nor an endorsement of U.S. Senator Rand Paul or U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, just a great opportunity for you to get to know them and discuss your ideas and views with them and hear of their lives, faith, and respective vision for our nation,” organizer Robert Fischer wrote in an email invitation to evangelical Christian leaders.
While Cruz was well-received by the crowd, there were some hecklers present as he spoke, to whom he replied: “It seems President Obama’s paid political operatives are out in force today. And you know why? Because the men and women of this room scare the living daylights out of them.”
It is just as likely, however, that establishment Republicans could have sent “paid political operatives” to heckle the Tea Party Senator as he spoke, as members of the Party’s old guard have taken every opportunity to criticize Cruz and his allies in recent weeks.
Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) attacked Cruz late last week, saying: “To somehow think that we were going to repeal Obamacare, which would have required 67 Republican votes [in the Senate] was a false premise, and I think we did the American people a great disservice. … We started out with a false premise on this side of the aisle. Shouldn’t we be embarrassed about this? Shouldn’t we be ashamed?”
And Representative Peter King (R-N.Y.) has barely been able to complete a sentence in recent weeks without tossing in a criticism of Cruz, who he blames for “hijacking” the GOP.
“I don’t consider these guys conservatives. I think the party is going in an isolationist trend. It’s appealing to the lowest common denominator in many ways. And this whole threat of defunding the government, to me, is not conservative at all,” King told POLITICO, later adding: “Maybe we do live in different worlds. These guys from the Ted Cruz wing live in their own echo chamber.”
In a separate interview with Bloomberg, King shrieked, “We can’t allow 30 or 40 people to hijack the Republican Party. We’ve got to call them on it. We can’t allow a small minority of a party to hijack it and, again, cause catastrophic problems, not just for our party — that’s our problem — but for the country. It’s 800,000 people out of work because of 30 or 40 people.”
Fortunately for Cruz, GOP lawmakers like McCain and King have sidestepped the wishes of conservative voters on so many occasions that they are likely to be to be viewed by conservative voters as lukewarm conservatives of the Mitt Romney variety, which was proven unpopular among that voter bloc in the past two Presidential elections.
And what Cruz lacks in popularity in elitist GOP circles is made up for by some pundits with major reach among conservative voters coming to his defense.
On Thursday, FOX pundit Charles Krauthammer ridiculed Cruz and his allies as being part of the “kamikaze brigade” and the “suicide caucus,” and claimed that the Tea Party lawmakers didn’t have a plan going in to the “delusional” defund strategy.
Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh quickly jumped to Cruz’s defense on his nationally syndicated radio show, saying that the Republican Party is simply attempting to cover for failing to take any real action to defeat Obama’s policies by portraying lawmakers like Cruz as “reckless amateurs who almost brought down the government” and portraying the “mature establishment types” as ones “who know what they are doing.”
“None of this would be happening if it hadn’t been for the defund and delay strategy of Cruz and [Senator Mike] Lee and the people who joined them,” Limbaugh said. “So the point is that the establishment is still hell-bent on demolishing and discrediting the Tea Party and the ‘Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, and whoever else was involved’ coalition.”
Limbaugh went on to note that if “Lee and Cruz had not done this, Obamacare would be fully funded, the debt limit would have been increased,” and “because Lee and Cruz insisted on this, the Democrats were exposed.”
“If it hadn’t been for Cruz and Lee, we wouldn’t be having this conversation about Obamacare or entitlement spending or the debt or the debt limit,” Limbaugh declared. “We wouldn’t see Obama’s approval ratings plunging. We wouldn’t be as focused on the failure of the Obamacare website as we are, I guarantee you. It’s all combined here.”
The radio host concluded by crediting Cruz and company with forcing Republicans to fight, rather than roll over and accept Democrat demands as they have in past budget debates.
“If Ted Cruz and Mike Lee hadn’t done that, you know where we’d be right now?” Limbaugh asked. “The Republicans would have long ago caved. We would have Obama fully implemented. We’d have the debt limit raised. It would have been a grand-slam, slam-dunk win for Obama and the Democrats.”