U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz wrapped up the formal launch of his re-election campaign here Wednesday night.
But he didn’t say a word about it to the crowd.
Instead, he spoke of how tough Texans are in the face of natural disasters such as Hurricane Harvey and man-made tragedies such as the Sutherland Springs shooting.
“A Texan is strong. A Texan is independent,” he told a crowd of more than 500 during a Back the Blue event at River Ranch in the Stockyards. “A Texan is fearless. A Texan loves freedom and will fight for freedom.
“And a Texan is tough.”
Cruz’s appearance in Fort Worth marked the finale of the formal launch of his re-election campaign, which had sent him to 12 cities over the past three days.
In November, he faces potentially his toughest challenger — U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, an El Paso Democrat and former punk rocker who announced this week that he raised more than $6.7 million in the first quarter of the year.
Cruz hasn’t yet released his first-quarter fundraising numbers.
“This week we’ve launched our re-election campaign and we’ve been barnstorming the state,” he said Wednesday evening after the law enforcement event. “Tarrant County is the biggest red urban county in the country. November is all about turning out conservatives.
“We will see record-shattering Democratic turnout because the left is angry, motivated, and they hate the president. But fortunately there’s a lot more conservatives in Texas than liberals. And if conservatives show up, we will have a very good election in November.”
Honoring law enforcers
Cruz touted his campaign slogan, “Tough as Texas,” as he talked about challenges Texans have overcome.
He honored law enforcers, including Fort Worth police officer Matt Pearce, who was shot multiple times in 2016 while pursuing two suspects and was sidelined for about 20 months.
Pearce had “shattered bones and wounded organs,” Cruz said. “But he’s a survivor, he’s a fighter, and Matt has returned in uniform, continuing to serve as a Fort Worth police officer.
“Chuck Norris has nothing on you,” Cruz told Pearce.
Cruz also paid tribute to the five Dallas police officers who died in an ambush during a peaceful protest in 2016 — Patrick Zamarripa, Senior Cpl. Lorne Ahrens, Michael Krol, Sgt. Michael Smith and Brent Thompson, a Dallas Area Rapid Transit police officer — as well as other law officers recently slain: Danny Shaw of the Texas Department of Public Safety, David Sherrard of the Richardson Police Department and Jerry Walker of the Little Elm Police Department.
“To the families of the fallen, thank you for your sacrifice,” Cruz said. “Thank you for your loss. We know the pain of that day will never be erased. But we want you to know your loved ones did not die in vain.
“They died heroes.”
First re-election bid
Cruz, a past and probably future presidential candidate whose strongholds include Dallas-Fort Worth, is in his first Senate re-election bid.
In his first race in 2012, he faced the popular and well-financed then-Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and won a runoff that was delayed until July because of a legal battle over redistricting maps. About 6 percent of the state’s eligible voters cast ballots in that runoff. In a state with more than 13 million voters at the time, Cruz won by getting 151,686 more votes than Dewhurst.
He went on to win the general election handily, as the Republican candidate in such a red state was expected to do.
The Tea Party darling has made headlines ever since, riling fellow senators and running for president in 2016. He is poised to potentially make another bid for the White House in 2020.
He handily won the Republican primary battle over four challengers in March. But Democrats say Cruz’s re-election campaign isn’t going to win over Texans.
“Maybe Texans don’t like Ted Cruz because they know he’s more responsive to big campaign donors rather than them,” said Manny Garcia, deputy executive director of the Texas Democratic Party. “Maybe Texans don’t like Ted Cruz because he exploited their personal Facebook data during his failed 2016 presidential campaign.
“Or maybe we all agree with former President George W. Bush, who famously called it like he saw it and said, ‘I just don’t like that guy.’ Texans can see right through Ted Cruz.”
On Wednesday night, Cruz told the crowd he will continue to fight for Texans.
“It is my privilege to stand alongside you as we fight to strengthen, defend and preserve this great state,” Cruz said. “I give you my word. As long as there is breath in my body, I will stand with each of you fighting to defend the freedom that makes Texas the greatest state in the greatest nation in the history of the world.”
State Rep. Matt Krause, a Fort Worth Republican, introduced Cruz to the crowd and gave him his own stamp of approval.
“Ted Cruz has been a fighter for us since Day One,” Krause said. “Ted Cruz: Texas tough.”