Senator Ted Cruz picked up the lunch tab Monday at the Draft Sports Bar and Grill.
During a business roundtable at the Concord, New Hampshire bar, the Texas senator and GOP presidential hopeful slammed the Obama administration and presented his plan to fix the country despite the machinations of what he calls the “Washington cartel” including through healthcare and tax reform and a tough foreign policy stance.
Cruz’s campaign stops Sunday drew hundreds across the Granite State where the Tea Party icon said support has been “electric” and “unbelievably strong.”
Cruz also praised fellow Republican presidential contender Donald Trump in comments to the media prior to the roundtable.
“I like and respect Donald Trump. I’m glad he’s in the campaign,” said Cruz, who will be teaming up with Trump in a rally opposing the Iran deal next week in Washington. Cruz said the rally will take place on September 9 and he invited Trump to join him in opposing the “catastrophic Iran deal” which will help draw “a whole lot of focus in the media” and the populace to the subject.
“I’ve been leading the fight to stop this catastrophic Iran deal,” Cruz said, who also added praise for Democrat Chuck Schumer who he said represented patriotic Democrats prepared to put national defense above their party.
Cruz said Trump has “forced” the media to address the issue of illegal immigration, an issue he says he’s led on by always opposing amnesty.
“When primary voters ask the natural second question, who’s has the record on this issue? Who’s been leading on illegal immigration? There’s a big difference between my record and that of the other candidates,” he added.
Cruz said his national support doubled coming out of the GOP debate in Clevaland several weeks ago, and he credited Trump for gaining a lot of the nation’s attention.
“We raised 1.1 million dollars the first 100 hours coming out of that debate,” Cruz said. “I’m thrilled that that many millions of eyeballs, that many millions of people turned on the debate because of Donald Trump and had the opportunity to hear my positive, optimistic, hopeful conservative message and ended up supporting our campaign.”
The Reagan Coalition
Cruz said the nation is seeing “the old Reagan coalition coming together” and hinted that he and Trump are two big beneficiaries of that.
“Conservatives, evangelicals, we’re seeing young people, Hispanics, African-Americans, women, Reagan Democrats, all coming together and it’s from the grassroots,” he said, adding his approach to Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina is “all in” and can appeal to the more conservative voters of Iowa as well as the more varied libertarian, conservative and Independent voters of New Hampshire. Cruz noted he was the only candidate endorsed by both Ron Paul and Rick Santorum in 2012.
“That is a level of breadth that is helpful for bringing together that Reagan coalition,” he said.
Cruz disparaged “foolish” fellow Republican candidates who have been criticizing Trump and sometimes his supporters, saying those individuals are not doing conservatism any good.
“An awful lot of Republican candidates in the presidential field have gone out of their way to smack Donald Trump with a stick. I think that’s wrong, I think that’s foolish, I think that doesn’t make sense,” Cruz said. “It’s not only that I refuse to do so, but I have been very consistent in praising Donald Trump and praising the people that are coming out to see him.”
Cruz Will Take On The Man And Win
In his remarks, Cruz ran through a fairly boilerplate Republican candidate message decrying high taxes, over-regulation, and weak foreign policy. He also highlighted religious liberty, saying it would be one of his priorities on day one in office to end persecution and singling out of Christians in the U.S.
Not one other candidate admits to being a “squishy moderate” or establishment type, Cruz observed, thus arguing that his conservative record should be the benchmark voters use to judge him, rather than just what he says on the campaign trail.
“When I say I’ll take on the EPA I’ll actually do it,” Cruz told the small crowd gathered around luncheon meats and leftover steaming breakfast sausages.
While mocking the New York Times for saying he can’t win because he doesn’t have establishment support in his party, Cruz said he considers it the other way around.
“I kind of thought that was the whole point,” he said of his reputation as a party outsider.
Cruz spoke to the small crowd of business and political leaders as well as a smattering of supporters with gusto and polish, presenting himself as a man of action prepared to devotedly push for accountability, fiscal reform, and socially conservative positions.
Through promotion of jobs and growth, defense of all parts of the Constitution, and restoration of American leadership on the world stage, the country will see its fortunes improve vastly, Cruz said.
It’s Now Or Never
“Our country is in crisis. This isn’t a typical time in politics. It is now or never. We are bankrupting our kids and grandkids. Our Constitutional rights are under assault from Washington like never before,” said Cruz, adding that nonetheless he’s optimistic as he sees the U.S. now as in a similar position as it was in the 1970s facing Iran and Russia and where he said the country had weak leadership and world position but then elected Reagan and experienced great economic and leadership renewal.
Business growth will be the key to his plans, Cruz said.
“With growth we can do all of it. Without growth we can’t do anything,” Cruz said of his plans, adding that growth must come from the private sector rather than government and be spurred by tax and regulatory reform including massive reforms to entitlements.
The tragedy of the Obama economy is that it has “trapped millions in dependence,” Cruz said, adding that “the social safety net should be a trampoline, not a hammock.”
After repealing “every word of Obamacare” he would institute practical healthcare reforms that would increase private competition and let Americans buy health insurance across state lines as well as decouple it from where one is employed. Cruz said his plan would be “personal and portable and affordable and keeps government from getting in between us and our doctors.”
Cruz also called the current Department of Justice partisan and lawless, and said all that would change under his presidency.
On Abolishing The IRS
He talked about his plan to abolish the IRS and institute a flat tax that could be completed on a “postcard” sized piece of paper. Cruz said, in what he later qualified was a half-joke, that the 90,000 IRS employees would be sent to guard the Southern border when they lost their job taxing Americans.
“We need to padlock that building, take all 90,000 and put ’em down on our southern border,” he said. “I say that somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but if you think about it for a second, sir imagine you traveled thousands of miles in the blazing sun. You’re swimmin’ across the Rio Grande and the first thing you see is 90,000 IRS agents. You’d turn around and go home too.”
Cruz took one tough question from one audience member, who accused the senator of hurting the country’s future by supporting “mass legal immigration” and supporting trade policies that favor global trade deals over American workers.
Cruz differed with the man’s immigration beliefs, saying “illegal, bad, legal, good,” but backtracked somewhat on the TPP, saying that “if it undermines our sovereignty I’ll oppose it” and adding that he has to read it closely before taking a position.
The questioner was Charles Pewitt, who often engages criticizes those who support mass immigration legal or illegal on Twitter. He told The Federalist after Cruz’s remarks that he identifies as a “European, Christian American” and looks up to anti-immigration French politician Marine Le Pen, past presidential candidate Pat Buchanan, and late key white nationalist figure Sam Francis. Pewitt said Cruz is nothing but a “huckster” who won’t really stand up for white Americans or their economic interests, but appeared gleeful at Trump’s prospects in the GOP race.
Pewitt brings up the interesting topic of what factors are driving the Trump phenomenon as discussed in Ben Domenech’s recent piece: “Are Republicans for Freedom or White Identity Politics?”
Cruz’s lunch stop was followed by opening his headquarters in Manchester, New Hampshire. Cruz has raised more hard money than any other Republican contender including Jeb Bush, and on Monday he emphasized his commitment to putting in more time in New Hampshire. He also mentioned the appeal he has among a diverse group of voters.
His remarks were well received by the attendees, but did not get very specific about his tax code reforms, something contender Marco Rubio has made a central theme of his campaign, but Cruz did present impressive initial tidbits of his healthcare reforms. Cruz appeared energized and on point at the lunch stop, but he wasn’t particularly distinguishable from his fellow contenders. Clearly Cruz has an eye on jumping aboard the Trump train that he believes could take him all the way — or at least part of the way — to Pennsylvania Avenue.