Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Saturday insisted that American voters have plenty of reasons to be optimistic, he said at a stop in the important presidential race state of Iowa.
“All across this country, people are waking up,” said Cruz, long rumored to be considering a 2016 presidential bid. “And they’re waking up to bring America back to the principles we have been founded on. There is a better way than the path we are on.”
In his roughly 20-minute talk, Cruz bounced between sharp criticism of Obama and ways that the GOP can get the U.S. back on the right track. He spoke seriously about his policy proposals, but also took a light touch with apparent hecklers and talked up Iowa fair favorites like a cow statue made of butter.
“Thank you, sir,” Cruz shouted back at one point. “Appreciate you exercising your First Amendment rights.”
The state fair speech was just Cruz’s latest appearance outside his home state of Texas, with another speech on the docket later on Saturday at the Iowa Family Leadership Summit.
It comes just after Cruz again proved to be a thorn in GOP leaders’ sides in the debate over the child immigrant crisis, with Democrats going so far as charging that the Texas Republican essentially ran the House.
To regain the majority in Washington, Cruz said conservatives needed to champion economic growth and contrast their proposals with Obama’s economic record; protect constitutional liberties, from First Amendment protections of speech to Fourth Amendment protections of privacy; and stand up more to foreign leaders like President Vladimir Putin of Russia.
“It reminds you of a new diet that’s really quite popular in Washington these days. It’s called the Obama diet,” Cruz said after mentioning both the butter cow and a pork chop on a stick. “You just let Putin eat your lunch every day.”
Like other leading Republicans, Cruz cast his economic pitch as positive for minorities and the working poor — those he said have been hurt the most by the economy over the last five years.
Cruz, for instance, said that work requirements in ObamaCare were making it harder for people to find full-time work, and pushed back once more on the blame the GOP has received for last October’s government shutdown.
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has also sought to offer a more inclusive message with a new anti-poverty plan, ahead of the 2016 campaign.
Still, Cruz wasn’t shy in knocking the president for a variety of issues, including the IRS’s improper scrutiny of Tea Party groups and National Security Agency surveillance techniques.
He also placed the blame for the recent border crisis on Obama, called for a repeal of the Common Core education curriculum and even found a way to get in a shot at the rumored front-runner for the Democratic nomination in 2016 — former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
“We are seeing the consequences of the Obama/Clinton foreign policy playing out across the globe,” Cruz said. “It seems like the whole world is on fire right now.”