HOUSTON — Ted Cruz returned home Tuesday evening to a hero's welcome, rallying hundreds of supporters outside the headquarters of his week-old presidential campaign with an impassioned plea to replicate the energy that propelled him to Congress in 2012.
"Four years ago, when we launched a campaign for United States Senate, no one thought it was possible, and yet a great many of the women and men who are here — y'all rose up against all the odds, against all the money, against all the infrastructure, against all the party, and you said, 'Enough is enough, we are going to turn this country around," Cruz said in one of multiple references to his come-from-behind victory over former Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst.
Joined by his wife, Heidi, and father, Rafael, Cruz urged his backers to use the same tools as before — email, Facebook, Twitter and knocking on doors — to fight back against a political establishment dead set against his presidential bid. He touted the bipartisan resistance as a badge of honor, especially as he recalled recently reading in The New York Times — his favorite punching bag on the stump — that "apparently I am out of favor with the Washington elites."
"I have to admit I wanted to print their article, make 300 million Xerox copies and give them to every American," Cruz said as the crowd roared in approval. "It may be the only time in history I've ever agreed with The New York Times."
Riffing off a famous quote from The Usual Suspects, Cruz railed against the politicians who he said seek to marginalize the same voices that sent him to the Senate: "The greatest trick the left has ever played is to convince conservatives that America doesn't share our values."
Prior to Cruz's remarks, his supporters were shuttled in groups up to the seventh floor of the office tower housing his campaign headquarters, an L-shaped space complete with a nursery for staffers' children and the Cruzes' own daughters, 4-year-old Catherine and 6-year-old Caroline. Inside, the offices of senior advisers line one wall and look out on staffers' desks, the largest section belonging to the data team. Cruz's office, so far, is a sparse room equipped with a couch, desk, two chairs, a TV and a white board.
Rafael Cruz, a pastor, delivered a fiery introduction of his son, conjuring memories of campaigning for Ronald Reagan while raising a 9-year-old Ted. Back then, dinner table conversation "would center on politics every day," Cruz's father said.
"When the polls said Ronald Reagan was unelectable — Have we heard that recently? About someone else? — we swept the country when we had a groundswell of we the people," Rafael Cruz said. "We did it in 1980, and we can do it again."
However, Cruz's father added, his son's campaign has advantages Reagan did not: social media, talk radio and the ability to circumvent reporters who "want to preserve the establishment, preserve the status quo."
"You," Rafael Cruz told his son's backers, "will not be disappointed."