Presidential hopeful Ted Cruz returned to his roots Thursday, reaching out to crowds of thousands to defend his home turf as other Republicans flock to Texas seeking support.
Greeted by standing ovations and shouts of “We love you, Ted,” Texas’ junior senator began his day at the Fort Worth Stockyards, delivering a message of change to an enthusiastic crowd of around 2,000.
“People are tired of candidates who say one thing and do another,” he said before his 30-minute outdoor rally. “They are looking for a leader who will stand up and tell the truth and do what he said he would do. That’s what I’ve tried to do more than anything in the United States Senate.
“People are looking for a consistent conservative who has been the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.”
His Texas campaign swing, which included visits to Tyler and Kingwood, comes after most of the 17 Republican presidential candidates have visited the Lone Star State for donations or support in the 2016 presidential primary.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker was the latest to make the trek, reaching out Wednesday to supporters at a Dallas soda shop.
Texas voters will head to the polls March 1 to divvy up 155 delegates.
Cruz said: “I welcome all the Republican candidates to come to Texas to campaign. They are good people. I like and respect the rest of the field.
“We’ve got a tremendous base of support,” he said. “They may discover a difficult path but, certainly, I welcome every one of them into the state of Texas. And I hope they try to make the case to voters here on how they will be a consistent conservative rather than someone who talks a good game on the campaign trail.”
Texas Democrats sent a greeting to Cruz as he returned home Thursday.
“The people of Texas were starting to get worried that he might have forgotten about his constituents,” state Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa said. “But Ted Cruz’s record speaks for itself: He’s done nothing but shortchange Texas families, create a toxic and divisive environment in Washington, D.C., and obstruct any real solutions that improve the lives of everyday Americans.”
Cruz, 44, skyrocketed to national attention in 2012 when he defeated Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in a Senate race that turned into a classic fight: Tea Party vs. establishment Republican, David vs. Goliath. It was the first political office sought by the former solicitor general of Texas.
An ardent Tea Party Republican, Cruz has remained in the headlines, attacking the GOP establishment, criticizing the Obama administration and calling on officials to draw a harder line against the president. He even helped force a partial government shutdown, which Republican leaders said hurt their cause.
He was the first to formally jump into the GOP presidential race, in March, telling those gathered at Liberty University in Virginia that it is “time for truth … [and] liberty.”
State Sen. Konni Burton, R-Colleyville, introduced Cruz to the Stockyards crowd, saying he’s the right candidate — a “strong, principled conservative” — to serve in the White House.
“Sen. Cruz has not disappointed us,” said Burton, a longtime friend who worked on Cruz’s Senate campaign. “He has not been a go-along-to-get-along guy, that’s for sure.”
Cruz took a dig at Konni Burton’s predecessor, former Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth: “There used to be someone else representing that district. I think she’s now selling pink tennis shoes.”
Cruz said Thursday that his fight has just begun.
On his first day as president, he said, he plans to rescind every “illegal and unconstitutional” executive order by President Barack Obama, begin an investigation into Planned Parenthood, declare that persecution of religious liberty “ends today,” “rip to shreds this catastrophic Iranian nuclear deal” and move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
He said he would repeal Obamacare, eliminate Common Core education standards, secure the border, end “sanctuary” cities, take on the Environmental Protection Agency and do away with the IRS.
He also said the Education Department should be abolished.
When people try to enter illegally, they’ll see 90,000 IRS agents and turn around and go home.
Sen. Ted Cruz
After the IRS is shut down, Cruz said, the 90,000 employees there should be sent to the southern border. “When people try to enter illegally, they’ll see 90,000 IRS agents and turn around and go home,” he said.
And when he’s through as president, Cruz said, “a whole lot of newspaper reporters and journalists will check themselves into therapy.”
He said it’s time for change in Washington, D.C.
“If you think things are going great in Washington … then I ain’t your guy,” he said.
But for anyone who is ready to fix a “broken” Washington, “that is what this campaign is all about.”
“We are not prepared to go quietly into that good night.”
Carole Webb hasn’t been to a presidential candidate rally since John F. Kennedy campaigned in North Texas in the early 1960s — until Thursday.
The Azle woman said she was compelled to show up to support Cruz.
“I think it’s thrilling to have a man like that ready to go to work for us,” she said. “I believe every word he said.
“We need a new president and we need Ted Cruz.”
Cruz’s last public Stockyards appearance was in March 2014 at a standing-room-only rally supporting Konni Burton’s bid for state Senate.
Crystal Main, a longtime supporter, said Cruz already has her vote. And the reason is simple.
“He has done what he said he would do — even if he’s in the minority,” she said. “He has done what is right.”
Peter Ballard, 48, an unemployed software developer, said he has long supported Cruz.
“He’s the most conservative guy in the race,” he said. “We can’t have any more middle-of-the-road people.
“We need to get tough, and we need to start standing for things again.”