NATIONAL HARBOR, MD, March 16, 2013 — Texas freshman Senator Ted Cruz got a warm welcome from the audience as he stepped on stage as the last speaker of CPAC 2013 this afternoon. As is his usual style, he got out in front of the podium and spoke from memory. No TelePrompTer or even notes for the former Solicitor General of Texas.
Like most speakers at CPAC, he opened with a few jokes; his were about the sequester. He teased the audience that due to cutbacks we had eaten only 97.5% of the planned dinner the previous evening and we all looked rather the worse for the loss.
He began by talking about Sen. Rand Paul’s filibuster and his part in it. He mentioned a few of the things he read, most notably—being from Texas—Col. Travis’ letter from the Alamo. As word of Paul’s filibuster spread, a number of senators began to join him. Twenty House members showed up as well. (Democrats invoked senate rules to keep them off the floor.)
He then spoke about his exchanges with Attorney General Holder about drone strikes. Cruz said that he asked the question three times and Holder, somewhat agitated, seemed to ask, “Don’t you trust me?” Cruz said no, we should not trust this administration or the next, or the next, whether they are Democrat of Republican. It was a great Constitutional answer.
His point in mentioning these events, he said, was that the country became interested as people saw leaders engaged in standing on principle. It was the same theme that former Sen. DeMint mentioned Thursday night: people are looking for principled leaders and when they find them, they will follow.
The sequester, the filibuster, Cruz’s exchanges with the administration over drones and the vote on his amendment to defund Obamacare: these are all small victories for conservatism. How we keep winning was the remainder of his talk.
He pointed to two ways: defend the Constitution and champion growth and opportunity.
He recalled the famous exchange in 2009 when Nancy Pelosi was asked under what part of the Constitution was Obamacare based. She replied, “Are you serious? Are you serious?”
“Let me answer Speaker Pelosi,” he said. “Yes, we’re serious.”
Continuing the Constitutional theme he also spoke about repealing the NDAA detention provisions and dialing back federal overregulation. Federal policies, he said, have led to the Great Stagnation. If Obama had followed Reagan’s policies, which ended the recession Reagan inherited in 1981, we would have 7 million new jobs by now.
Transitioning to growth and opportunity he reeled off a list of initiatives we should take: repeal Obamacare, repeal Dodd-Frank, eliminate corporate welfare, build the keystone pipeline, reign in the EPA, audit the Fed, stop “QE Infinity,” and abolish the Department of Education—that last getting a noticeable increase in the volume of applause from the youthful audience. Education, he said, is too important to be left to Washington bureaucrats. He called school choice the civil rights issue of the next generation.
He ended with a series of challenges, beginning with “On guns, do we surrender or do we stand up now?” The crowd stood and applauded. Several more challenges followed, each one getting louder applause than the previous.
The audience loved it. The Twitterverse, following online, approved. It was a great speech and a great ending to CPAC 2013.
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