Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) kicked off the Red State Gathering 2012 conference in Jacksonville, Florida by telling the fired up crowd that he’s seeing an ‘awakening’ in the American people who are fed up with liberal policy and establishment politicians on both sides of the aisle. Cruz, the underdog Tea Party favorite who won the Texas Republican primary run-off on Tuesday, gave a short but impassioned speech about the fight for freedom that included references to Martin Luther King, Jr., Ronald Reagan and Texas settlers in the 1800s when General Santa Ana tried to disarm them; they made a banner with a picture of a cannon on it that read “Come and take it.” That line received an immediate round of applause.
Candidate Cruz also mentioned that he had announced his campaign on a conference call to bloggers and other citizen journalists rather than the mainstream media. Cruz said of his primary victory, “The rock stars were the people. It was breathtaking.”
Cruz didn’t spare establishment Republicans, either, at one point saying “This isn’t a team sport. The goal isn’t just to get 51 people wearing red shirts and then say ‘we win!'” He discussed the importance of conservative values and had high praise for South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint, saying “Three years ago Jim DeMint was a very lonely man” as he discussed the uphill struggle DeMint has faced promoting fiscal restraint.
Cruz is a familiar face at Red State Gathering, with Red State Editor Erick Erickson pointing out in his introduction, that Cruz has attended for several years, both as an invited guest and participant. Red State Gathering continues through Saturday.