Sketching out themes for what could be his stump speech in a potential presidential campaign, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) last Saturday ripped the lawlessness of President Barack Obama’s imperial presidency.
He also used examples from history to imply that the Washington consultants who insist on Democrat-lite policies and candidates for the GOP in what Cruz said is a “now or never” moment to save the country fit the definition of insanity.
America is relinquishing its leadership role on the global stage. Obama’s economy is devastating low-income and working Americans. Meanwhile, Obama feels unbound to even his own signature legislation.
After receiving the Claremont Institute’s Winston Churchill Award for statesmanship at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Los Angeles, Cruz, in a speech that was received with a standing ovation, said that America’s image abroad and its economy at home can only be restored if Republicans boldly stand on principle and nominate a strong conservative who is not afraid to “draw a line in the sand” and represents a GOP that draws sharp contrasts from Democrats.
He said the Beltway consultants want to tell conservatives to “put your head down, don’t rock the boat, don’t stand for anything,” because they believe that standing for principles is inconsistent with winning elections. Cruz emphatically argued, with proven examples, that that is false. His speech implied that the country can only be turned around by ignoring the so-called “smart guys” in Washington, like Reagan did, and boldly standing for conservative principles.
As he did during his significant foreign policy address at the Uninvited II national security conference across the street from CPAC, Cruz said that, contrary to what Obama may believe, American exceptionalism has been dangerous to tyrants and dictators throughout history when Americans know why they are exceptional and defend liberty. He said that because the United States has receded from leadership in the world, nations like Russia, China, and Iran are filling the vacuum. He blasted the “tortured semantics” coming from Obama’s White House on foreign policy before declaring that the nation needed a clarity and “defense of our values.”
“Truth has power,” he said. “And the United States has a responsibility to speak with a clarion’s voice for freedom.”
Cruz said that scholars have written that Churchill was a great leader because people “trusted him as they could none other.” Echoing Churchill in saying that “we’re entering a period of consequence” and “despite the plainest of warnings, we face grave threats,” Cruz said Churchill’s lessons of leadership apply to Americans as well.
Cruz said the global loss of American leadership is making the world a more dangerous place while the continued economic stagnation at home is making it tougher for American workers to achieve the American dream. To make matters worse, Cruz said that Obama has behaved in a consistently lawless manner, “undermining the constitution and undermining our rule of law.” He blasted Obama’s “pattern of lawlessness” and his abuse of power on a range of laws from immigration, to marriage, to welfare, and to drugs.
“If he disagrees with them he simply refuses to enforce them,” Cruz said.
He said there has been “no more staggering illustration of lawlessness than the enforcement or non-enforcement of Obamacare.”
“The statute says the employer mandate kicks in January 1, 2014; the President of the United States unilaterally says, ‘no it doesn’t,'” Cruz said. “The statute says that Members of Congress are subject to Obamacare; the president of the United States unilaterally says, ‘no they’re not.'” He then pointed out that the Obamacare law calls for millions of Americans to lose their health insurance despite Obama’s repeated false promises to the contrary.
Instead of going to Congress to fix the law, Obama, Cruz said, “held a press conference in which he instructed private insurance companies to issue policies that are illegal under the statute.”
He said Obama’s message was basically, “Go ignore the law, violate the law on presidential whim.” Cruz said this is not a partisan issue and it should trouble anyone who believes in the rule of law.
“Because if you have a president who can pick and choose which laws to follow and which to ignore, you no longer have a president,” Cruz said.
Cruz used four contrasts from history – Winston Churchill and Neville Chamberlain, Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan, Bob Michel and Newt Gingrich, and the Washington establishment versus free-market conservatives in the last four congressional elections – to show conservatives that boldness trumps meekness when times get tough.
After comparing Churchill’s “We shall never surrender” brand of politics that would not “not acquiesce to what was happening in Europe” to Chamberlain’s, Cruz used three examples of boldness triumphing over timidity in the political arena at home.
Cruz spoke at length about Ronald Reagan’s fight for the heart and soul of the Republican party when he challenged President Gerald Ford for his party’s nomination in 1976. Though Reagan barely lost the nomination fight to Ford, he had won the hearts of Republicans and conservatives, which was made evident when he addressed the Republican National Convention at Kemper Arena that year. And in 1980, Reagan triumphed over the Republican establishment en route to the nomination and eventually two terms in the White House.
Cruz said Reagan drew distinctions and a “line in the sand” on domestic and foreign policy and quipped that those who called Reagan and his supporters “kamikaze conservatives” are still hurling the same invective today. Cruz mocked the cognoscenti for looking down on Reagan as a Philistine when he told Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall” at the Brandenburg Gate or when Reagan said his strategy for the Cold War was simply, “we win, they lose.”
He then contrasted former House Minority Leader Bob Michel, who was resigned to and comfortable with being a perpetual loser, with Newt Gingrich, who led the GOP’s “Contract with America” revolution in 1994. Cruz said that in the late 1970s, Michel told freshman Republicans, according to Time magazine, that he woke up every day, looked in the mirror and said to himself, “Today, you’re going to be a loser.” Michel then told Republicans to not let that bother them because, over time, they’d get used to losing.
“And you wonder why we never won,” Cruz said.
Today’s GOP leadership has been criticized for adopting Michel’s mentality even though they control the House, and Cruz said it is “a philosophy that has long predecessors.” However, in 1994, what Cruz described as a “a crazy bunch of revolutionary bomb throwers” went to the American people and convinced them with a contract that “there is a better path than the one we’re on.” Republicans took back the House for the first time in 40 years.
Finally, Cruz contrasted the pale-pastel Washington establishment with the bold, free-market conservatives over the last four election cycles. Cruz noted that when Republicans have followed the timid philosophy of the Washington consultants, they got walloped in 2006, 2008, and 2012. He said “the only one in which the election was different was 2010” when conservatives made the case to the American people that they would try to “repeal every single world of Obamacare,” turn around the national debt, and defend the Constitution and fight for liberty. Cruz said what resulted was an “epic tsunami that transformed Congress.”
Yet, the Washington establishment, Cruz said, wants to go back to the philosophy of 2006, 2008, and 2012.
After saying that the definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result, Cruz said that even though Republicans win presidential elections when the party nominates a strong conservative, the Washington establishment continues to push moderate Republicans that have lost every presidential race during the last 40 years.
He said that Nixon, even though he did not govern as one, ran as a conservative and won in 1968 and 1972. Ford, running as an establishment Republican, lost in 1976 to Jimmy Carter, while Reagan won two terms by emphasizing bold policies over those that were of the “pale-pastel” variety. George H.W. Bush won when running for Reagan’s third term and lost four years later when running as a moderate establishment candidate. Bob Dole lost as a moderate on top of the ticket in 1996; George W. Bush won two terms because Evangelicals turned out for him; and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Mitt Romney lost the last two presidential elections, respectively.
The beltway consultants, Cruz said, keep saying, “but the next time will be different.” He said the “stakes are too serious” for such prescriptions for failure to be adopted “over and over and over again.”
After mentioning that Evangelical Christians and Reagan Democrats, especially Catholics in the rust belt, stayed home in 2012 because they thought they had to choose between the lesser of two evils instead of voting for a strong leader, Cruz said that, like Reagan, Republicans will not win if they don’t draw a line in the sand, but instead “[shirk] away without giving a clear choice as to why elections matter.”
Quoting another British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, Cruz said, “first you win the argument, then you win the vote.”
As he has done in most of his other speeches, Cruz said he was still optimistic and hopeful because the grassroots revolution that is stirring across the country reminds him of the one that powered Reagan to the presidency and restored America’s economy, which allowed the country to become a leader once again on the world’s stage. He said that is what he wanted attendees to remember if they could remember one thing from his speech.
Before Cruz’s appearance at the dinner, posters depicting a tattooed Cruz with a cigarette in his mouth, which soon went viral, were spotted in Beverly Hills and Los Angeles.
Cruz, like he did at Washington’s annual Gridiron Dinner, also showed that he can thrive in such venues, which will only give him more currency for the so-called “invisible primary” if he chooses to run in 2016. He spoke about his wife, who is from San Luis Obispo and helped found the College Republicans at Claremont McKenna College. He also reflected on a humorous story about his encounter with his future-in-law when he asked for his permission to marry his daughter. Cruz said his future father-in-law said he would have to think about it and then told him the next morning that he and his wife “we’re not ready to give up our daughter… but we are ready to gain a son.”
He also joked that Obama may be the one person who may not like a Cruz-Churchill comparison.
“I’m pretty sure that he also would like to send my head back to England,” Cruz quipped.