FORT WORTH — U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz said Friday evening that Republicans thinking of running for president should lead by example, and he suggested that some of the names being thrown around by political pundits are of politicians who are not currently doing so.
“By all accounts, there are 10, 12, 15 people who seem to be thinking about running,” Cruz told reporters after delivering a speech at the RedState Gathering, an annual conference hosted by the conservative blog. “What I would encourage each of them to do is stand up and lead. I think it would be fantastic if, a year from now, we had five or six or seven Republicans, senators, governors, standing up and leading, making the case that what we’re doing isn’t working and there’s a better path for America.”
Cruz said that “time will tell” whether he would launch a bid for president, but that he was now focused on mobilizing grassroots conservatives around the country and helping Republicans win enough Senate seats this November to gain a majority in that chamber.
“Abroad, the Obama/Clinton foreign policy has reaped utter devastation,” Cruz said. “It seems like the whole world is on fire right now. There is a palpable hunger in Texas and across the country for new, conservative leadership.”
Asked about the possibility of Gov. Rick Perry running for president, Cruz called Perry “a terrific governor” and “a friend” but offered no further comment.
Cruz’s remarks came minutes after he finished speaking to a ballroom full of conservatives who practically pleaded with him to run for president in 2016.
RedState Editor-in-Chief Erick Erickson introduced Cruz as “the leader of the conservative movement in the United States of America.” After the speech, he led a prayer for Cruz and his family, something he didn’t do for Perry, who addressed the conference earlier in the day.
In his speech, Cruz recounted five conservative victories in Washington, including the failure of Democrats to pass gun control legislation following the mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., and Obama signing a bill authored by Cruz to block Iran’s new envoy to the UN from entering the U.S. In each anecdote, Cruz framed the outcome as attributable to the grassroots holding Washington accountable, either by making their interests clear or by Cruz acting on their behalf.
“The impossible becomes possible when we shine the light, tell the truth and empower the American people,” Cruz said.
Later in the speech, he touched on “victories we are having that are not yet complete but, as we say in Texas, they’re fixin’ to be.” Cruz described two long-sought goals among conservatives — a repeal of Obamacare and passage of immigration reform that would include an end to the Obama administration’s policy of halting some deportations — as within reach if Republicans could secure a majority in the U.S. Senate.
“I believe in 2014, Republicans are going to retire Harry Reid as Senate majority leader,” Cruz said, drawing a standing ovation and his loudest applause of the evening.
Cruz had several lines that drew laughs from the crowd, including his description of “the Obama diet.”
“It works really, really well,” Cruz said. “You just let Putin eat your lunch every day.”
Speaking with reporters after the speech, Cruz was asked about allegations by some Democrats that state Sen. Ken Paxton, the Republican nominee for attorney general, is not fit for the office because of an ethics scandal related to his soliciting clients for a Texas investment firm without registering with the State Securities Board.
“I think Ken Paxton is a strong conservative, and he’s going to be a terrific attorney general,” said Cruz, who was solicitor general in the AG’s office before becoming a U.S. senator. “It is not surprising to see Democrats slinging mud.”
Both Cruz and Perry are scheduled to be in Iowa this weekend to speak at the Family Leadership Summit at Iowa State University in Ames.