DALLAS, Texas — Texas Senator Ted Cruz recently spoke at the Defending the American Dream Summit organized by Americans for Prosperity. The eighth annual Summit was the largest in the event’s history, with over three thousand attendees, and Cruz’s popularity with the conservative crowd was obvious. Like Governor Rick Perry’s speech at the Summit, Cruz’s speech was enthusiastically received by the audience and received multiple standing ovations.
AFP President Tim Phillips introduced Cruz as “one of our favorite United States Senators,” praising him as someone who “doesn’t just take the fight to the left… when it’s required, he stands up to his own party.”
Cruz entered the stage as the crowd chanted, “Run, Ted, Run!” and continued chanting as he grinned, finally saying “Wow!” As is his habit, Cruz eschewed the podium to walk around the stage as he delivered his remarks.
The presumptive 2016 presidential candidate was optimistic about the GOP’s chances in the 2014 elections, and told the grassroots activists in the audience they would be a crucial factor. “Thank you for the courage of your convictions,” said Cruz. “Because of your leadership, because of your passion, America is waking up, [and] we are winning victory after victory after victory.”
He also thanked AFP as being “front and center leading [this] fight,” and described the Summit as a “call to action,” declaring that “66 days from now, we’re going to retake the United States Senate and retire Harry Reid!” as the crowd rose to their feed.
Cruz identified four key issues for this year’s election: 1) preventing amnesty, 2) stopping Obamacare, 3) adopting smarter foreign policy, and 4) defending constitutional rights.
The Senator was harshly critical of the White House’s immigration policies. “Obama has made a decision to make this election in 2014 a referendum on amnesty.” Like many other Texas elected officials, Cruz was frustrated by the detrimental impact of Obama’s failure to secure the border on our state. “In Texas, border security is not some abstract theory; it is something we live with everyday.”
Cruz mentioned Obama’s failure to visit the border when he was in Texas last month for several Democrat Party fundraisers, and how he had tweeted a map to the border to encourage the president to travel to Laredo and McAllen. The senator was not yet willing to give up on encouraging Obama to visit the border, issuing an invitation from the stage and pointing out that there was a golf course near Big Bend National Park.
The surge of children crossing the border was described by Cruz as a “humanitarian crisis [that is a]direct consequence of President Obama’s lawlessness.” He identified Obama’s decision in 2012 to grant amnesty to those who had come to the United States illegally as children as the trigger for the current border crisis, saying that we had gone from thousands of minors to tens of thousands of minors crossing the border, with an estimated 145,000 expected to cross next year if policies do not change.
Senate President Harry Reid drew Cruz’s ire for refusing to allow a vote on any bill that might secure the border, and for sending the Senate home on August vacation without dealing with the border crisis. “Reid and the Senate are ignoring the security priorities of this country,” he said.
Cruz mentioned how Obama is considering granting amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants through executive order this year. “Doing that is utterly lawless,” he stated, and again voiced his frustration that the Senate would not act to curtail the president’s actions. Another applause-drawing line: “There [are] some Democratic Senators we need to introduce to the private sector… who sorely need to lose their exemption to Obamacare.”
Regarding Obamacare, Cruz commented about the role of the American people in pushing back against this increasingly unpopular law. “In 2010 the American people stood together and drew a line in the sand, and said ‘let’s repeal every single word of Obamacare’…as a result of that fight, President Obama’s popularity as plummeted.” Cruz characterized 2012 as a partial retreat on the issue, saying that we had failed to see the fight to its finish and had gone “back to pastels,” and 2014 would be the turning point to take back the Senate. “If you like your Senator, you can keep your Senator,” he quipped, but if your Senator was supporting Obamacare, then they would be replaced. Cruz concluded with his prediction that a Republican president signing the repeal of Obamacare in January of 2017.
The Senator then turned to foreign policy. “What this election is going to come down to is restoring America’s leadership.” Cruz quoted Reagan’s Cold War strategy as a contrast to the present day: “He [Reagan] said it very simply: we win, they lose.’ It’s almost as if President Obama read that and got it backwards.”
World stability is getting undermined and American allies are being betrayed by Obama’s failed foreign policy, according to Cruz. “You look at our unshakeable friendship with Israel,” he said, mentioning the FAA’s short-lived ban of flights to Israel after a rocket launched by Hamas landed about a mile from Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv. This was an “unprecedented act” by the FAA, said Cruz, noting that the FAA had not banned flights to Yemen, most of the Ukraine, and other dangerous areas around the world. “So why then was differential treatment given to Israel?” he asked. Thankfully, after Cruz and others stepped forward to oppose the ban — including New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who boarded a flight to Israel in contravention of the policy — the FAA reversed their decision and allowed flights to resume.
Russia was identified as a unique threat that Obama was failing to contain. “The Russian bear is encountering the Obama kitty-cat,” said Cruz, recommending strong and quick action be taken, such as putting anti-ballistic missile batteries in former Eastern Bloc countries bordering Russia, approving natural gas applications to hit Russia “in the cash register,” etc.
Cruz was somber when discussing ISIS. “ISIS is the face of evil. These guys are so extreme, they were thrown out of Al Qaeda,” he said. “They are crucifying Christians…this isn’t just something that happened 2000 years ago. These monsters are nailing Christians to trees…kidnapping American journalists and beheading them.”
Cruz joined the voice of Perry and others who have called for a stronger military response to ISIS. “ISIS says they want to reject modernity, well, I think we should help them. We ought to bomb them back to the Stone Age.”
The last topic Cruz addressed was the defense of constitutional rights, pinpointing several key freedoms in the Bill of Rights as motivation to return control of the Senate to Republicans:
“If you support the second amendment right to bear arms, then vote Harry Reid out,” Cruz said, adding a joke that “in Texas, gun control means hittin’ what you aim at.” Cruz also listed “the fourth and fifth amendment rights to privacy,” the tenth amendment and the chance to “repeal every word of Common Core,” and the first amendment rights of freedom of speech and religion as more reasons to “vote Harry Reid out,” drawing yet another standing ovation.
He emphasized that the solution would be at the ballot box in November, for grassroots activists to not only make sure they vote, but to work hard and bring other voters to the polls. “I’m going to ask every person in this room to go and vote ten times. I’m not suggesting voter fraud, we’re not Democrats. Go and vote and then find nine other people who wouldn’t otherwise vote and get them to show up and vote.”
Cruz thanked the audience for their support –“I am honored to stand side by side with each of you…thank you and God Bless you” — and walked off stage as they cheered his name.
After his speech, Cruz chatted with select members of the media for about ten minutes. You can watch that video here:
Breitbart Texas spoke with bloggers and other members of the conservative media who heard both Cruz and Perry’s remarks, and this informal survey showed that both speeches were very well-received, and left little doubt that both Texans are seriously considering presidential runs in 2016.
[Disclosure: the author of this article has previously done independent consulting work for Americans for Prosperity.]
Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter at @rumpfshaker.