VOL. 130 | NO. 156 | Wednesday, August 12, 2015
Cruz Rallies Standing-Room-Only Agricenter Crowd
By Bill Dries
Republican presidential contender Ted Cruz complained of “bipartisan corruption” and “the party of Washington” this week at a Memphis rally at Agricenter International that drew a standing-room-only crowd of more than 500.
The Texas senator, just a week from the first major television forum of the 17 Republican presidential contenders, called out rival Jeb Bush, former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and U.S. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell as he criticized President Barack Obama and Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton.
Republican presidential contender Ted Cruz rallied more than 500 supporters Tuesday, Aug. 11, during a campaign stop at Agricenter International.
(Daily News/Bill Dries)
Cruz also touted his ability to raise $14.3 million in three months from 175,000 contributors who contributed an average of $68 each. It is what Cruz defines as “grassroots” support from outside the Washington beltway.
“What we have in the Senate right now is the McConnell-Reid leadership team where they are fighting for the same priorities,” he said referring to Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid. “It is the party of Washington. … If you see a candidate Washington embraces, run and hide.”
The rally was one of three in Memphis and North Mississippi. Earlier Tuesday Cruz visited Connie’s Fried Chicken in Tupelo and Sweet Pea’s Table in Olive Branch. Cruz worked his way across Tennessee Monday, Aug. 10, with stops in Chattanooga, Murfreesboro, Franklin and Jackson.
Local organizers worked for about a month on the events, which at Agricenter drew a crowd that was largely supportive. But it also included some Shelby County Republicans anxious to see and assess the large Republican field of contenders.
Several noticed that Cruz avoided any mention – good, bad or indifferent – of early frontrunner Donald Trump.
Cruz criticized and pledged to repeal the basic tenets of Obama’s administration, including “every word of Obamacare.” He also jabbed at fellow Republican senators and other Republicans on the proposed Iran nuclear deal pending before Congress, calling it “catastrophic.”
“The single greatest national security threat to this nation is the threat of a nuclear Iran,” Cruz said.
And he again said the deal would make the Obama administration “the world’s leading financier of radical Islamic terror.”
When Cruz originally made the comment last month, Obama attributed it to presidential politics: “Maybe this is just an effort to push Mr. Trump out of the headlines, but it’s not the kind of leadership that is needed for America right now.”
Cruz, in his Memphis remarks Tuesday, also singled out Republicans including Romney who joined in Obama’s criticism of Cruz.
“Who said Romney was a Republican?” someone in the audience shouted as Cruz named him and rival contender Jeb Bush among those who joined in the attack.
“Truth is not rhetoric,” Cruz said of the criticism.
As he talked of the March 8, 2016, “SEC primary” elections, a reference to the college athletic conference that covers the Southern states, Cruz returned to Romney.
“If we nominate Democrat lite again, we will lose again,” he said.
Cruz billed himself as a “real and genuine conservative” in the mold of Ronald Reagan.
“If you think things are going great in Washington, that we need to keep going in the same direction – just fiddle around the edges – then I ain’t your guy,” he said. “If you think Washington is fundamentally broken, that it is corrupt with a bipartisan corruption of career politicians in both parties … that’s what this campaign is all about.”