WASHINGTON -- Fresh off the campaign trail in Iowa, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz returned to the U.S. Capitol Monday to escalate his attacks against his party's leadership for not fighting hard enough against President Obama.
In an hour-long speech on a nearly empty Senate floor that ended when he could not gain permission to continue, the state's junior senator and presidential hopeful expanded his usual criticisms of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to include outgoing House Speaker John Boehner. Cruz also lambasted fellow Texas U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, spoke of the recent lunar eclipse and boasted of a puzzling personal role in law enforcement.
"Speaker Boehner faced a conundrum," Cruz said of Boehner's abrupt decision to step down. "If he does what he and McConnell promised, which is funding all of Barack Obama’s priorities, he would have lost his job."
"And so what did he do?" Cruz asked. "He announced he’s resigning as speaker and resigning as a member of Congress."
He also took aim at his colleague from Texas, Majority Whip Cornyn. Dozens of times, he questioned the integrity of "Republican leadership," a reference that includes Cornyn in his capacity as the second-ranking Senate Republican.
He specifically called out Cornyn, along with a handful of other senior Republican senators, for voting down a Cruz amendment targeting funding for Planned Parenthood and the Iran nuclear weapons deal via voice vote.
In contrast, Cruz cast himself and conservative senators and House members who frequently vote with him as the only elected members performing their jobs with the will of the American public in mind.
The speech lasted until his colleagues refused to extend his allotted time. Along the way, Cruz made several pop culture references — the Sunday night lunar eclipse, the movie "The Terminator" and the novel "Brave New World" — not an altogether unimaginable departure from his marathon 2013 speech two years ago which included a reading of "Green Eggs and Ham."
He also claimed the mantle of the badge:
"I'm an alumnus of the U.S. Department of Justice," he said. "I was an associate deputy attorney general. I spent much of my adult life working in law enforcement."
Cruz served in that position for six months, according to his online LinkedIn.
He held several positions in the George W. Bush 2000 presidential campaign and administration, clerked in the federal judicial branch, represented Texas before the state and federal Supreme Courts for five and a half years and was a private practice attorney for nearly seven years.
A Cruz spokeswoman fleshed out the comment via email.
"Cruz's role in law enforcement as a prosecutor is proven over the course of more than a decade," Cruz spokeswoman Catherine Frazier wrote. "As Texas' solicitor general and an attorney in private practice, he supervised and approved criminal appeals cases, and argued numerous criminal cases, including before the Supreme Court."