NATIONAL HARBOR, Maryland — Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) took the whole potential 2016 GOP presidential primary field to task during an exclusive interview with Breitbart News at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). He’s calling on all candidates to show voters where they’ve stood up and led on every single issue they take publicly conservative stances on.
Cruz points out that every single potential candidate will claim to be conservative at CPAC and on the campaign trail in 2016, but voters need to demand proof from the candidates that they’ll actually deliver.
“How do we as conservatives distinguish when we’ve got a whole bunch of candidates sounding good and saying good things?” Cruz said. “We both know a whole lot of politicians have demonstrated they’ll say one thing and do another. The answer is I believe we as Republican primary voters need to ask every candidate who shows up in front of us that you say you believe in these principles, but show me.”
Cruz specifically asked all of his potential 2016 challengers to show their battle scars. Of course, Cruz is aiming to differentiate himself from a crowded 2016 Republican field. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, real estate magnate Donald Trump, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, Dr. Ben Carson, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, and more potential presidential candidates are also speaking at CPAC. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) are not speaking at CPAC, but are also considering running.
“When have you stood up and when have you bled for them [conservative principles]?” Cruz asked of his challengers.
What have you accomplished? As Scripture says, you shall know them by their fruits. So if a candidate says they oppose Obamacare, we should ask show me where you stood up and fought against it.
If a candidate says they oppose the debt ceiling and the debt that’s crushing our kids and grandkids, we should ask show me where you’ve stood up to stop it. If a candidate says they support the First Amendment or free speech or liberty, if a candidate says they support the Second Amendment—the right to keep and bear arms—we should say show me where you’ve stood up and fought to protect them.
If a candidate says they oppose President Obama’s illegal and unconstitutional executive amnesty, we should say show me where you’ve stood up and fought it. If a candidate says they oppose Common Core, we should say show me where you’ve stood up and fought against it. If a candidate says they stand with the Nation of Israel, if a candidate says they will oppose and stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapon capabilities, we should say show me where you’ve stood and fought. That’s how we distinguish.
In his interview with Breitbart News, Cruz channeled former President Ronald Reagan in calling for bold colors, not pastels, in the next GOP nominee, echoing a speech Reagan made to CPAC years ago.
“It was 40 years ago at this event—CPAC—where Ronald Reagan stood up and explained how we win. He said we paint in bold colors, not pale pastels,” Cruz said. “I believe 2016 is going to be an election very much like 1980. We will win by providing a clear line in the sand, a bold optimistic vision for the future. That’s how we win. We stand for the people and we stand against the corruption in Washington.”
Cruz said he is “looking very, very seriously at running for president in 2016,” and the reason why “is simple:” the future of the United States is uncertain if there isn’t a drastic change in direction, something he’s proven he can provide. He’s definitely been gearing up for a run, as he just hired Rick Tyler, a top GOP operative who worked for Newt Gingrich’s 2012 bid, and has a core political team of former Rick Perry aide Catherine Frazier and Jamestown Associates’ Jason Miller—among others—on board.
“Our country is in crisis. This next election, it’s now or never. We cannot continue down this road. If we have another four or eight more years on this current path, I fear we risk losing the greatest country in the history of the world,” Cruz said.
As we look to recent elections, and we compare 2004—the last race Republicans won—to 2008 and 2012, by far the biggest difference is the millions of conservatives who showed in ’04 who stayed home in ‘08 and ’12.
They fall primarily into two groups. Number one, evangelical Christians showed up in massive numbers in ’04 but stayed home in ’08 and even more stayed home in ’12. And number two, Reagan Democrats—largely ethnic Catholics up and down the rust belt, they tend to be blue collar union members, gun owners, pro-life, strong national defense. Ohio steel workers.
The central question, if we’re going to win in 2016, is how do you bring back the millions of conservatives who have stayed home the last two elections and that’s one of the reasons I’m looking so seriously at this race is because if you look at all the candidates—we have to nominate a candidate who can energize and mobilize those conservatives and bring them back to the polls.
To win in 2016, Cruz told Breitbart News that Republicans need to become more populist and stick up for American workers instead of special interests in Washington.
“I think we also, to win, have to run a populist campaign for working men and women against the corruption in Washington,” Cruz said. “There’s a basic choice—do you stand with the people? Or do you stand with the bipartisan corruption in Washington? If we run a populist campaign standing for freedom in 2016, we will win and we will save this country and reignite the miracle of America.”
Cruz also slammed the GOP establishment, specifically Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, for caving to President Obama’s executive amnesty by not trying to block funding for it in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) funding bill.
“I think what’s happening on Capitol Hill right now is sad,” Cruz said.
It’s unfortunate to see the Republican leadership cutting a deal with Harry Reid and the Democrats to surrender the fight on executive amnesty. We should be honoring the commitments we made. We should be standing up in unison against President Obama’s executive amnesty.
Several months ago I called for Republicans in Congress to use every constitutional check and balance we had to rein in the president’s lawlessness. That includes using the confirmation authority that the Constitution gives the Senate.
In particular, I called for the Senate Republican Majority Leader to announce that we would not confirm a single nominee—executive or judicial—other than vital national security positions unless and until President Obama rescinds his illegal and unconstitutional executive amnesty. I also believe we should use the power of the purse, that we should use the most potent tool the framers gave us to refuse to fund the lawless action. Unfortunately, Republican leadership is not honoring those commitments.
Cruz also spoke highly of CPAC, and said that the grassroots leaders here are exactly the people who are going to turn a nation in crisis around.
“It’s great to be back at CPAC. CPAC is invigorating,” Cruz said.
CPAC consists of conservatives, of young people, of libertarians, of evangelicals, of Republican women—men and women from all over the country coming together to fight to save this country. We’re in a time of crisis.
Liberty is under assault. America is in jeopardy and I am encouraged and energized to see the passion that is here. The men and women here will be on the front lines reigniting the miracle of America, changing us from the misguided path we’re on to getting back to the free market principles and constitutional liberties that built this country.