Only the White House is talking about a government shutdown, Ted Cruz says

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) spoke at the Americans for Prosperity’s Defending the American Dream summit Saturday afternoon. Afterwards, he took questions on Obamacare, immigration reform, constitutional change and upcoming midterm elections. (Sebastian Payne/The Washington Post)

The other potential 2016 presidential candidates who spoke at the Americans for Prosperity conference this weekend — including Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) — were outshone by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), whose raucous, rabble-rousing speech centered on a hawkish foreign policy, repealing the Affordable Care Act, defending constitutional rights and addressing the situation on the southern border.

Following speculation that another government shutdown is on the horizon over immigration reform, Cruz accused the White House of floating the idea. “There is one person and one person only talking about shutting down the government, and that is the White House,” he said.

On possible upcoming executive action on immigration, Cruz told the crowd that “the president has no authority to prospectively grant amnesty to anyone.” He also blamed Obama for the migrant problems on the southern border. “The crisis on the border is caused directly by President Obama’s lawlessness,” he said.

He also extended an invitation for Obama to visit the border, with the promise of a round of golf. “I’ve never known anyone who plays that much golf,” Cruz said. “It’s almost like he doesn’t have a job.”

The crowd lapped up Cruz’s hawkish foreign policy views. “There’s a diet popular in Washington: the Obama diet. You simply let Putin eat your lunch every day, ” he joked. He said that the Islamic State, the militant group that has seized control of parts of northern Iraq and Syria, is “mocking America,” and “we ought to bomb them back to the Stone Age.”

Cruz touched on the ACA several times, suggesting that a Republican president would “stand in the Rose Garden in 2017 and repeal every single word of Obamacare.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) was also a frequent target. “If you believe in the First Amendment, vote Harry Reid out,” he said. Cruz was confident that Republicans would retake the “do-nothing Senate” in the midterm elections.

Cruz received several standing ovations from a crowd that began chanting “Run, Ted, Run” as soon as he arrived on stage. But when asked about aspirations for the 2016 Republican nomination, Cruz remained coy. “We’re going to win in 2014, and 2016 is going to be even better,” he told the crowd.

At a news conference, Cruz also outlined his vision for the future of the GOP. “I think 2016 is going to be very much like 1980 — it took Jimmy Carter to give us Ronald Reagan.”

“I think Barack Obama is going to produce new leadership in the Republican Party that brings us back to the principles this country was founded on,” he added.

Sebastian Payne is a national reporter with The Washington Post. He is the Post’s 35th Laurence Stern fellow.
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