The Midland Reporter-Telegram: Cruz talks record, Dewhurst during MCRW lunch
By Stewart Doreen
Originally published by The Midland Reporter-Telegram:
Former Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz — a candidate backed by tea party stalwarts Sens. Jim DeMint and Rand Paul — made his pitch to the Midland County Republican Women on Wednesday.
With straw poll victories across the state and endorsements from high-profile conservatives across the nation, the 40-year-old candidate took aim at front-runner David Dewhurst, saying he provides a clear contrast to the “timid career politician.”
Cruz headlined a group of Republican candidates for local, state and federal offices Wednesday at the Petroleum Club. Railroad Commission candidates Christi Craddick, Warren Chisum and Becky Berger also spoke to a packed room. Appeals court candidates Justice Eric Kalenak and Mike Willson and county commissioner candidates Brooks Smith and Lynn Yarbrough also addressed the crowd.
Cruz posed three questions for the Republican women and other luncheon guests: Is it time for new leadership? Do we need a fighter? Does the grassroots effort matter?
In each case, he explained why he was the conservative candidate for Texas. He said Texas voters need to send “reinforcements” to Washington to fight against President Barack Obama, Democrats and even some fellow Republicans who have lost their way. He listed endorsements — including DeMint; Paul; Sen. Pat Toomey, of Pennsylvania; and Sen. Mike Lee, of Utah.
“I am incredibly humbled to be the only candidate in the country to be endorsed by all four,” Cruz said. “The Senate is at the tipping point. There are six or seven strong conservatives. If we can grow that number to 10 to 12, it will transform the Senate. A small core of committed conservatives will transform an entire body.”
Cruz argued his experience includes successfully representing Texas as solicitor general on issues like guns, school prayer, public display of the Ten Commandments, the Pledge of Allegiance and U.S. sovereignty.
“There is a difference between talking points and a proven record,” Cruz said.
His message should resonate with West Texans, said Ernie Angelo, a former Midland mayor, Republican National Committeeman and member of Cruz’s statewide leadership team. Angelo complimented Dewhurst for his leadership but said America needs “hard-core conservative guys who will fight back the status quo in Washington and make a difference.”
“We don’t need someone who will rock the boat,” Angelo said. “We need someone who will turn the boat over. The guy who can do that is Ted Cruz.”
In January, a Texas Public Policy poll showed Dewhurst with an 18-point lead (36-18) over Cruz. That lead is down from 29 points in the fall. No other Senate candidate had a spread less than double digits. Cruz pointed to straw poll wins across the state, including with the Greater Houston Council of Republican Women in Dewhurst’s backyard.
Cruz said the more people get to know the candidates, the bigger the advantage he will have. He said that is a reason Dewhurst has skipped 22 candidate forums this political season. In fact, Cruz said he believes if no candidate in the crowded field — which also includes former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert — can reach 50 percent and the race heads to a runoff, it is to Cruz’s advantage.
“His campaign view is he will write an enormous check and buy the state,” Cruz said about Dewhurst. “Among active, informed primary voters, we have a double-digit lead today. If we hold David to 49.9 percent (in the primary contest), we win.”
Cruz is expected to return to Midland for a March 5 event at the home of Clayton and Modesta Williams.
Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples will be a guest speaker at the next Republican Women’s luncheon, scheduled for March 14.