Cruz addresses conservatives
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.”
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.