“Sen. Cruz actually set the pace for the elections for 2014 and 2016,” said Rose Wing of Marietta, president of the Georgia Federation of Republican Women. “He fully energized this room, got them ready.”
A rising star in the Republican Party and tea party favorite, Cruz was the keynote speaker at the National Federation of Republican Women’s Southeastern Regional Summer Conference, held at the Renaissance Waverly Hotel.
The country, Cruz told the several hundred people in the room, is headed off a cliff. “We have never seen an administration in Washington like this administration undermine the Bill of Rights, undermine the Constitution that protects our God-given rights,” he said.
Cruz mentioned his father, who fought in the Cuban revolution and was imprisoned and tortured before fleeing to Texas in 1957.
“When I was a kid, my dad used to say to me over and over again, ‘When we faced oppression in Cuba, I had a place to go to. If we lose our freedom here, where will we go? There is no place to go,” Cruz said.
Targeting U.S. citizens
Cruz spoke proudly of standing with Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) during Paul’s 13-hour filibuster against the Obama administration’s drone policy. Earlier that same day, Cruz said he asked Attorney General Eric Holder if the Constitution allows the U.S. government to use drones to target U.S. citizens on U.S. soil if they don’t pose an imminent threat.
“His response was, ‘Well, I don’t think that would be appropriate.’ To which I responded, ‘Gen. Holder, it seems you’ve misunderstood my question. I was not asking about propriety.’ After all, he was not there testifying as the etiquette and manners columnist of the local newspaper,” Cruz said. The two went back and forth on the same question three times.
“I was really expecting him to look at me and say, ‘I do not understand this Constitution to which you refer,’” Cruz said.
Following the exchange, the Texas senator joined Paul for the filibuster.
“And as the day went on something incredible happened,” Cruz said. “The American people got engaged. People got fixated by C-SPAN, a phrase that does not occur naturally in the English language.”
One by one senators began to show up along with more than 20 U.S. representatives.
“And as a result of the American people standing up, getting engaged, speaking out after 13 hours, the next day President Obama was forced to do what he refused to do for three consecutive weeks, which is admit that the Constitution limits his authority to target U.S. citizens,” Cruz said, as the audience burst into applause.
The right to keep and bear arms
Cruz spoke of his fight to protect the Second Amendment. Originally, Obama had the momentum, attempting to use the Connecticut elementary school tragedy to undermine law-abiding citizens’ Second Amendment rights, he said.
“Everyone was saying, ‘This can’t be stopped. This is going to happen. You need to shut up and take it.’ And I was proud to stand with Sen. Mike Lee and Sen. Rand Paul, three of us sent a very short letter to Harry Reid. We said, ‘we will filibuster any legislation that undermines the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.”
Americans engaged in that political battle just as they did over the drone affair, he said.
“What happened next was each of you started reaching out to your elected representatives, to your elected senators, saying, ‘how come you’re not fighting for our constitutional rights? How come you’re not standing for the Second Amendment,’ and phone calls started pouring in,” he said. “And suddenly all those senators that were on the fence that wanted to prove to the Washington cocktail circuit just how reasonable they are suddenly realized it was a whole lot more reasonable to listen to their constituents than the editorial page of the New York Times.”
When Vice President Joe Biden showed up on the day of the vote, every one of Obama’s proposals that would have undermined the Second Amendment was voted down on the Senate floor, he said.
Abolishing the IRS and Obamacare
Cruz blasted the IRS for targeting tea party and pro-life groups.
“When Richard Nixon tried to use the IRS to target his political enemies it was wrong,” Cruz said. “And he was rightly decried in a bipartisan manner. And when the Obama administration did the same thing it was every bit as wrong, and we need to have accountability. But there’s a more fundamental issue. The simplest and best solution is we need to abolish the IRS.”
The U.S. House has numerous times passed legislation to repeal Obamacare, all to no avail. A number of those votes have been nothing more than exercises in pandering, he suggested. Yet there is a real opportunity to kill Obamacare this September. Since the government is funded on continuing resolutions, Cruz said when it comes time to renew the resolution this fall Congress must ensure there is no funding to pay for Obamacare.
“I have publicly pledged I will not support any continuing resolution that funds one penny of Obamacare,” he said.
There is, however, “a dirty little secret.” And that is many Republicans are “scared to death” to turn down the continuing resolution for fear they will be blamed for shutting down the government, he said.
“To get this done we need one of two things,” Cruz said. “We need either 41 Republicans in the Senate to stand together or we need 218 Republicans in the House to stand together and to say collectively, ‘we will not vote to fund one penny of Obamacare.’”
Whether Republicans stand and fight or cave remains to be seen.
“Look, we didn’t get in this mess because of just one party,” Cruz said. “It has been leaders in both parties who have gotten us in this mess. You don’t get a $17 trillion national debt without a whole lot of bipartisan cooperation going the wrong way. And there are more than a few elected officials that like casting votes that are symbolic votes so they can come back to their constituents and say, ‘See, I voted to repeal Obamacare.’ But it scares them to do it when the consequences are significant where it’s a real fight where it’s going to happen.”
Calling for the elimination of the Internal Revenue Service is considered crazy talk in Washington, Cruz acknowledged.
“Because there are a whole bunch of lobbyists on K Street that make a whole bunch of money lobbying for exemptions to the IRS code,” he said. “How does that get done, how do we abolish the IRS, how do Republicans stand together in a continuing resolution and defund Obamacare and by the way this is probably the last window to do it because the subsidies start in January.”
The answer is for Americans to hold their lawmakers accountable just as they did in the drone and Second Amendment battles, he said.
The biggest lie in politics, Cruz said, is that Republicans are the party of the rich and the party of big business.
“The truth of the matter is the rich, big business, they do great with big government. They get in bed with big government. They have an army of lawyers and accountants and lobbyists. We are and should be the party of the little guy, of the entrepreneur, of the person climbing the economic ladder, the person seeking the American dream. That’s who Republicans are.”
Is Big Brother watching?
Cruz shared his thoughts with the MDJ about the National Security Agency surveillance scandal after his talk.
“It is certainly concerning,” he said. “I think we need to take time to review exactly what the government is doing and what safeguards there are to protect our rights.”
There is a pattern, he said, of the Obama administration not respecting the constitutional rights of law-abiding Americans.
“And with respect to the NSA disclosures seeming to sweep too broad and disregarding the civil liberties of law-abiding Americans.”
At the same time, Cruz said he’s every bit as concerned that the Obama administration has not been effective at targeting “radical Islamic terrorists.”
“If you look at two recent examples, the Boston bomber, we had actionable intelligence that these brothers had connections to radical Islamic terrorism and for whatever reason the administration dropped the ball and didn’t prevent that tragic act of terrorism,” he said.
The Fort Hood Army major accused of mass murder was in communications with a known terrorist asking about the permissibility under radical Islam of murdering fellow service members, he said.
“This major was making presentations to his other service members that could be seen as embracing jihad and again we failed to connect the dots. Failed to prevent that horrific act of terrorism, and in my view that balances exactly backwards. We should be vigorously protecting every American against radical Islamic terrorists and at the same time we should be respecting the constitutional rights of law-abiding Americans.”
Georgia’s next senator should follow Cruz’ example
Former Georgia GOP Chair Sue Everhart of east Cobb said she thought Cruz was wonderful.
“He was right on the money with every thing that he said tonight, and I hope when we elect our next senator that he has the same thoughts and fortitude that Sen. Cruz has,” Everhart said.
Donna Rowe of east Cobb was also impressed.
“The thing that stood out for me is that he talked to us as Americans,” Rowe said. “It wasn’t just Democrat. It wasn’t just Republican. He talked to us about who we are. That we are Americans. And that this is our country. And that’s the most important thing he said to me tonight is that we’re Americans. It’s our country.”
Gov. Nathan Deal called Cruz an inspiring speaker.
“I had never met him before so it was nice to have the opportunity to hear him in person,” Deal said. “I agree with him on most things. I think he’s been one of those new senators that’s brought a breath of fresh air to the United States Senate, and it’s always good to have people like that come to Georgia and let us see him in person.”