U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, whose trips to early primary states have sparked speculation about a possible 2016 presidential run, is hitting the road in Texas next week to bash “Obamacare,” stage town hall meetings and press the flesh with the people who sent him to Washington, D.C.
Cruz’s central focus during the August recess remains his drive to defund the Affordable Care Act. But during the two-week swing, he’ll also squeeze in a few fundraisers, take a tour of the Keystone Pipeline near Houston, visit the U.S.-Mexico border, meet with business leaders, go to a military base and attend a ribbon-cutting for a veterans facility in Austin.
“He is taking full advantage of these weeks of recess to talk face to face to Texans about their concerns about what’s going on in Washington and to share his vision for how we need to get our country back on track, particularly as it relates to his efforts to defund Obamacare,” said Catherine Frazier, a Cruz spokeswoman.
The first-term senator and Tea Party firebrand has emerged as the most ardent defender of using a potential government shutdown as a way to strip funding for Obamacare. Cruz is floating a proposal, similar to one used by congressional Republicans in the 1990s, to oppose a “continuing resolution” that keeps the government fully funded in the absence of a broader budget agreement.
Cruz begins his Texas swing on Monday in the Houston area, where he will appear at fundraisers benefiting the Kingwood Tea Party and the Montgomery County Republican Party. On Tuesday, Cruz will join his father, Rafael Cruz, and former U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, president of the Heritage Foundation, at an event in Dallas. Organized by the Heritage Foundation’s sister group, Heritage Action, the town hall meeting is part of a nine-city tour designed to drum up grass-roots support for the uphill fight to cut funding for the new health care law.
Cruz also has a series of events scheduled in Central Texas next week. On Wednesday, he’ll give a legislative update to the Round Rock Chamber of Commerce and meet with Republican women in Georgetown before traveling to Kerrville for a roundtable meeting with business leaders.
On Thursday, Cruz will spend most of the day in Austin, holding another roundtable event at a high-tech company and then attending a ribbon-cutting for a Veterans Administration clinic. He’ll finish the day in Waco, where he’ll attend a benefit for the town of West, which was the site of a devastating fertilizer plant explosion in April.
Cruz will leave the state on Friday to attend a much-anticipated GOP fundraiser in Dublin, N.H., an event that will spark more speculation that the senator will run for president in 2016. New Hampshire, a big draw for presidential wannabes, traditionally holds the nation’s first presidential primary.
For the final week of the August recess, Cruz returns to Texas and will hold a series of events in South and West Texas. On Sept. 3 he’ll hit the Rio Grande Valley for a tour of the border region and a meeting with business leaders. He also has events scheduled that week in Laredo, El Paso (including Fort Bliss) and Amarillo.
Tanene Allison, spokeswoman for the Texas Democratic Party, called Cruz’s Texas trip a “public relations effort” focused on his presidential ambition rather than the priorities of his home state residents.
“He’s not talking about the issues that matter most to Texans,” Allison said. “A movement to try to shut down the government is not on the top of the list of what most Texans want at the moment.”