Cruz ad­dresses con­ser­va­tives

San Antonio Express-News (Sunday) - - Page 2 - By Jeremy Wal­lace AUSTIN BUREAU jeremy.wal­ Twit­ Jere­mySWal­lace

AUSTIN — U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz said the big­gest chal­lenge in his re-elec­tion cam­paign against Demo­crat Beto O’Rourke is com­pla­cency within GOP cir­cles.

Speak­ing to more than 200 con­ser­va­tives at a po­lit­i­cal con­fer­ence in Austin, Cruz said he’s hav­ing to spend a lot of time con­vinc­ing peo­ple that while Democrats haven’t come close to win­ning a U.S. Se­nate seat in decades, this year is very dif­fer­ent.

“We do have a real race,” Cruz said dur­ing the Resur­gent Gath­er­ing, a con­fer­ence or­ga­nized by blog­ger and ra­dio host Erick Erick­son. “We are tak­ing it deadly se­ri­ous.”

Cruz said peo­ple have fre­quently doubted how much trou­ble he faces this year. He said sev­eral peo­ple have said to him that it’s Texas. How could a Repub­li­can pos­si­bly lose?

“But this is not an or­di­nary cy­cle,” Cruz said.

He said the po­lit­i­cal left is en­er­gized and an­gry. Plus, polls show a tight race and O’Rourke is badly out­rais­ing him when it comes to cam­paign money. Cruz said if Repub­li­cans turn out their numbers, he’ll be fine. But if there is a dropoff, the race gets a lot more con­cern­ing for him.

“The dan­ger is that they stay home,” Cruz said. “That they are less en­er­gized.”

Cruz also used his speech to warn that O’Rourke, if elected, has said he would vote to im­peach Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump. Cruz has called that rad­i­cal.

“As bad as I thought Obama was, I didn’t call for him to be im­peached,” Cruz said.

Cruz’s state­ments were made at a con­fer­ence or­ga­nized largely by Repub­li­cans who haven’t been shy in stat­ing their op­po­si­tion to Trump. Erick­son has called the gath­er­ing a chance to find “com­mon ground for con­ser­va­tives who are not sup­port­ive of the pres­i­dent.”

Cruz high­lighted his own dis­agree­ments with Trump, specif­i­cally point­ing out his news con­fer­ence with Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin last month in Helsinki.

“That press con­fer­ence was a mis­take,” Cruz said to a loud round of ap­plause. “I don’t think the Amer­i­can pres­i­dent ought to be apol­o­giz­ing for Rus­sian ag­gres­sion.”

But Cruz tem­pered that crit­i­cism by quickly say­ing the re­ac­tion from the left was “un­hinged” and was too ex­treme.

Hours af­ter Cruz spoke, the group heard from U.S. En­ergy Sec­re­tary Rick Perry, the for­mer Texas gov­er­nor. Perry mostly used his 30-minute dis­cus­sion to praise Trump’s ap­proach on en­ergy, in­clud­ing his de­ci­sion to pull out of the Paris cli­mate agree­ment and to get out of the Iran nu­clear deal.

Early, Erick­son asked Perry about be­com­ing en­ergy sec­re­tary af­ter ini­tially try­ing to run for pres­i­dent.

“God’s got a plan,” Perry said. “Some­times it’s not your plan. I re­ally thought I was sup­posed to be pres­i­dent of the United States. Well, that’s what I thought.”

Thao Nguyen / Con­trib­u­tor

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz speaks to the crowd at the Resur­gent Gath­er­ing con­fer­ence in Austin. Cruz, who will face Demo­cratic U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke for the Se­nate seat in Novem­ber, said Repub­li­cans need to get out the vote.

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