Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Oxon Hill, Md., March 6, 2014. (Mike Theiler/Reuters)

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), the first speaker at this year’s CPAC, urged Republicans to run campaigns on true conservative principles and suggested some recent GOP presidential candidates weren’t up to the task.

“We all remember President Dole, President McCain and President Romney,” Cruz said. He praised the trio as “good men” but said conservatives lose when they don’t stand by their principles.

Cruz then turned to wooing the youth vote, saying Republicans should focus on conservativism rather than identity politics and moderation.

“Who are the Republicans who have most energized young people? Ronald Reagan and Ron Paul,” Cruz said. “But when you think of them, neither of them were rugged, James Dean types. They were septuagenarians.

“Young people came out by the millions and said, ‘That’s the vision I want to be a part of.'”

Cruz said Republicans have suffered in recent elections by not hoisting conservative principles to the forefront — with the 2010 election being the exception.

“We put our head down, we stood for nothing, and we got walloped,” Cruz said.

Here's more from Cruz's speech via PostTV:

Speaking Thursday at CPAC 2014, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) said Republicans can appeal to young people, for whom the president's "agenda has been horrible." (The Associated Press)