Cruz: GOP leads in 2014 because of shutdown

FILE - In this March 18, 2014, photo, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks at the Network of Iowa Christian Home Educators’ state Capitol day event in Des Moines, Iowa. Cruz is making a pilgrimage to one of the largest weekly meetings of young evangelicals in the country. The Texas Republican scheduled a Wednesday, April 2, 2014, appearance before the student body of Liberty University, the Virginia school founded by the late Rev. Jerry Falwell. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)
Republican Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas), speaking in Des Moines, Iowa, in March (Charlie Neibergall/AP)

NEW ORLEANS -- Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) argued Saturday that his efforts during the two-week government shutdown in October contributed directly to the GOP's advantage in the 2014 elections, and he urged GOP "graybeards" to recognize that fact.

Cruz, speaking at the Republican Leadership Conference, bristled at the idea that his shutdown strategy had failed and hurt the GOP. Republicans did not earn concessions after the shutdown, and polls afterward showed the party lagging and being assigned the lion's share of the blame for the shutdown.

But Cruz said the proof of the shutdown's success would emerge over the long term and that the strategy had cast a floodlight on Obamacare's problems, which eventually led to the GOP being favored to retake the Senate this year.

Cruz suggested GOP "graybeards" are failing to give credit where credit is due.

"They’re reaping the fruits of the battle, which is perfectly fine," Cruz said. "But we need to take a moment to acknowledge the lesson of the battle.”

Cruz and other Republicans declined to fund the government if that funding included the Affordable Care Act, widely known as Obamacare. They held out for 17 days before GOP leaders agreed to pass a continuing resolution that included Obamacare funding. At the time, GOP leaders including House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) acknowledged they had lost the fight.

Cruz said one battle does not define his war.

"Any wartime general will tell you that not every war is won in a single battle," Cruz said.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.
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