BOULDER, Colo. — As Ted Cruz looks to consolidate the support of home-state Republicans, one rival campaign that also has deep ties to Texas is pushing back a bit — and questioning what the U.S. senator has done for his constituents.
"We feel really good about Texas," said Jeb Bush campaign manager Danny Diaz, suggesting in an interview late Wednesday that Cruz has little to show Texans after three years in the Senate. "Where’s the accomplishments?”
"The reality is, we look forward to communicating our record of accomplishment, the most conservative record of accomplishment in the field, versus others, and that includes Sen. Cruz," Diaz told The Texas Tribune following the third Republican presidential debate here at the University of Colorado Boulder. "Sen. Cruz has not distinguished himself" either by repealing Obamacare or keeping the nation's debt from exploding.
"So the reality is, once again, good floor speeches, great PowerPoint, but when it comes time to get things done, where's the accomplishments?" Diaz asked. "So as we discuss these differences with Texans and others, we're going to highlight the most accomplished conservative record in the field versus folks in the field that don't have any really discernible accomplishments."
Cruz is accustomed the criticism, which usually involves a comparison to another freshman senator who ran for president with a thin legislative resume: Barack Obama. Cruz likes to counter he is anything but the "backbencher" Obama was and has led the fight against a bevy of the president's policies.
The GOP debate came two days after Cruz convened three statewide officials, including Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, at his campaign headquarters in Houston to announce their support as well as that of six major donors to former Gov. Rick Perry. At the same time, several miles away, advisers to Bush — who was born in Midland and grew up in Houston — were huddling with top supporters at a donor retreat, seeking to assuage their concerns following dramatic staff cuts.
The contrast was not lost on the Cruz campaign, which was boasting of momentum Friday as Bush was dealing with fresh doubts about his candidacy. At Cruz's campaign headquarters on Monday, he made his regular suggestion that Bush is another moderate Republican who cannot excite conservatives enough to win the general election, but he went further than usual when asked if Texas was still “Bush Country.”
"Texans recognize circumstances have changed," Cruz told reporters. "Seven years of Barack Obama in Washington ... means we need something different, No. 1, to win and, No. 2, to actually turn things around once we do it."
After a debate that saw the closest thing yet to a breakout moment for Cruz — his confrontation with moderators over their questions — the senator was headed to early-voting Nevada on Thursday. In the evening, he is scheduled to attend a grand opening of a campaign office in Las Vegas, followed by a town hall there.