Texas Senator Ted Cruz might only be in the first year of his first term in U.S. Senate, but he is already igniting the imaginations of Iowa Republicans who view him as strong presidential candidate in 2016 should he choose to run.
Cruz was in Des Moines on Friday to address the Iowa Renewal Project, an annual weekend gathering of Iowa pastors and religious leaders. Cruz also attended a picnic fundraiser for the Republican Party of Iowa, and met with Republican activists and operatives during his first foray into Iowa.
Cruz downplayed the significance of his trip to Iowa in an interview with ABC News’ Jonathan Karl. In response to a question about whether or not he is ready to run for president in 2016, Cruz told Karl, “We are having a national debate about which direction the country should go…and what I am doing now is trying to participate in that national debate. I’m not focused on the politics…the last office I was elected to was student council. So this has been a bit of a whirlwind.”
Still, Cruz’s first trip to Iowa had many Republicans salivating, and by all accounts, there is no other way to describe his first trip to Iowa as anything but a huge success. What was remarkable about Cruz’s visit was his willingness and ability to interact with a wide array of Iowa Republicans, not just the pastors at the Iowa Renewal project and the 50 people who attended the Republican Party of Iowa luncheon.
Cruz held court in the lobby of the downtown Des Moines Marriott for nearly two hours. That is where he recorded an interview with ABC’s Sunday morning news show, This Week, and where he also sat down for an interview with TheIowaRepublican.com. Additionally, he had lengthy conversations with conservative activist Chuck Laudner and GOP operative Nick Ryan.
The lobby was chock-full of well-known Republicans. Some of which were attending the Iowa Renewal event like Bob Vander Plaats and Jamie Johnson, while others like Brenna Findley were just there to have a brief conversation with him. Cruz’s Iowa chaperone for the day shouldn’t be overlooked either. For years, Becky Beach has helped members of the Bush family traverse Iowa’s political waters, but more recently, she has helped Sarah Palin, and now Cruz. Beach’s contacts will help Cruz meet a more diverse set of Iowa Republican activists, not just the strong social conservatives that he naturally attracts.
Other notable Iowa politicos also helped Cruz make the most of his first trip to Iowa, but perhaps the most impressive thing about his first Iowa trip was his ability to get so many different operatives to assist him. The 2016 race won’t begin in earnest until the 2014 elections are in the books, but it is a rarity for so many different people to lend a helping hand to a single politician making his maiden voyage into the state. If anything, it might suggest that Cruz could be a unifying candidate should he choose to run for President in 2016.
The following are video clips from TheIowaRepublican.com’s interview with Cruz.
Cruz on immigration reform
In his 2012 campaign for one of Texas’ U.S. Senate seats, Cruz campaigned to triple the amount of boarder agents in the field. He also opposed creating a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants and opposes the DREAM Act, which would provide illegal immigrants who were brought to the United States as children a path to permanent residency if they attend college or serve in the military. Cruz has stuck to his guns on these issues since getting elected. He has been an outspoken opponent of the immigration bill that passed a few weeks ago, heand offered amendments to strengthen boarder patrol.
TheIowaRepublican.com asked Sen. Cruz to briefly describe why he opposed the bill, and what needs to be done to secure the boarder.
Cruz believes Obamacare can be defunded in 73 days.
Last week, Sen. Cruz authored a simple bill that would defund Obamacare. Iowa Congressman Steve King has championed the same legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives in previous years. TheIowaRepublican.com asked Cruz why is he introduced this bill in the Senate and if it has any chance of passing. Cruz answered, “Yes, and we can do it in 73 days.” Watch the video to hear him explain how it can happen.
Cruz believes Republicans can win Iowa U.S. Senate seat
Having won a contested U.S. Senate primary in the state of Texas, TheIowaRepublican.com asked Cruz what advice he would give the Republican candidates running for the U.S. Senate in Iowa. His advice to Iowans is to demand a strong, principled conservative who will defend free market principles and who will defend the constitution.
Cruz praises Iowa Caucuses
It never hurts to get potential presidential candidates on the record about the importance of the Iowa Caucuses.
Cruz Outshines Sen. Rand Paul at Renewal Event
Another potential 2016 Republican Presidential candidate was in Iowa to speak at the same even as Cruz, but Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul didn’t make the same type of splash as his colleague from Texas.
Chuck Laudner, a longtime conservative activist who has long been associated with Congressman Steve King and who helped Rick Santorum win the 2012 caucuses, was impressed by freshman Senator from Texas.
“Cruz took questions and covered a wide range of issues, while Paul used a teleprompter, took no questions, and didn’t address marriage,” Laudner told TheIowaRepublican.com. “Cruz really separated himself at the Renewal in describing his successes at the US Supreme Court on social issues. Cruz’s speech better reflected the attitudes in the crowd, as well as the overall message of the event,” he concluded.
Sen. Paul leads in the early Iowa preference polls, but if the media coverage that Cruz received is any indication, Cruz may be his main rival. On Friday, Rand Paul seemed like an afterthought while Cruz occupied the spotlight.
Cruz is scheduled to be back in the state in the next few weeks. He will be a headline speaker at The FAMiLY Leader’s Leadership Summit in Ames.
Photo by Dave Davidson – Prezography.com
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