Ted Cruz says he’s the ‘proven conservative’ in 2016 GOP field

Ted Cruz addresses  Georgia Republicans in Athens, May 2015. (AJC Photo / Hyosub Shin)

Ted Cruz addresses Georgia Republicans in Athens on Friday. (AJC Photo / Hyosub Shin)

The third Republican presidential aspirant to address the Georgia GOP crowd at its convention was Sen. Ted Cruz. (See my previous write-ups on Chris Christie and Marco Rubio.) While one could hardly mistake Cruz for anything other than a Texan, right down to the cowboy boots he wore with his suit, and he described Georgians as having a lot in common with the people of the Lone Star State, Cruz channeled Missouri’s Show Me State mentality in explaining how he would stand out from other primary candidates who have similar messages.

“Everyone’s going to say they’re super-duper conservative,” he said in a Friday afternoon interview that served as a Reader’s Digest version of his speech to convention delegates that evening. “I think the Republican primary’s going to come down to one word, and that’s trust. Far too many of us have been burned by politicians who sound great on the campaign trail, and then they go to Washington and they don’t do what they say. And I think what’s going to be the central distinction in this race is primary voters are going to say don’t tell me, show me.

“If you say you oppose Obamacare, show me where you’ve stood up and fought to stop it. If you say you oppose President Obama’s unconstitutional executive amnesty, show me where you’ve stood up and fought to stop it. If you say you oppose the debt ceiling that’s bankrupting our kids and grandkids; if you say you support the First Amendment, free speech, religious liberty, or the Second Amendment, the right to keep and bear arms, or privacy, or the Tenth Amendment; if you say you oppose Common Core — show me where you’ve stood and fought for those principles. If you say you support life or marriage, if you say you support Israel, if you say you oppose Iran getting nuclear weapons, show me where you’ve stood and led the fight.”

Cruz, of course, has famously angered a lot of Beltway insiders with his various attempts to do those things, most notably the government shutdown of October 2013 as a new fiscal year and Obamacare’s open enrollment were to begin. At dinner, he joked, “The New York Times says Cruz cannot win because Washington elites despise him. I kind of thought that was the point of this whole (campaign).” In the interview beforehand, Cruz suggested those things he’s done to alienate Washington elites are the very things that endear him to the rest of the country.

“I think the reason we’re seeing such incredible enthusiasm is people are fed up with politicians who blow smoke, and they’re looking for someone who’s going to tell ’em the truth, and who will do what he says,” Cruz argued, adding: “The principles I’ve fought for in the Senate are live within your means, don’t bankrupt our kids and grandkids, follow the Constitution. It’s only in Washington, D.C., that those are considered extreme views; in most of America, that’s basic common sense.”

Cruz also invoked Ronald Reagan’s famous call for “bold colors, not pale pastels.”

“If we nominate another candidate in the mold of a Bob Dole or a John McCain or a Mitt Romney — all three of those are good, honorable, decent men, but what they did didn’t work,” he said. “And if we do it again, the same voters who stayed home in ’08 and ’12 will stay home in ’16, and Hillary Clinton’s the next president.”