The Republican presidential candidate has spent the past two days here raising money, doing media interviews, holding a campaign event and, of course, lambasting GOP rival Donald Trump, the New York real estate mogul whose Trump Tower was just a few blocks away from where Cruz spoke.
"We are competing hard in the state of New York, and I’ve got to say, I think we have an inherent advantage because the people of New York know Donald Trump," Cruz said. He rattled off a list of New York Democrats he said Trump has financially supported — including Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Rep. Charles Rangel and former governor Eliot Spitzer — eliciting boos from the crowd.
"So the next time you think of all the disastrous policies that have been foisted on the people of New York, you can thank Donald Trump for bankrolling those efforts," Cruz said.
"Thanks, Donald!" a woman yelled from the audience, whose members were dressed in ties and dresses and sat in gold chairs. The Women's National Republican Club is headquartered in the building.
Cruz also continued a long-standing war of words with New York Mayor Bill de Blasio. Cruz accused de Blasio (D) of succumbing to "political correctness" and disbanding a secretive unit of detectives that mapped the Muslim community, spying on businesses and mosques and documenting conversations.
The unit, which was revealed in news reports, angered Muslims in New York who felt they were targeted solely because of their religion. While praised by some, the unit never generated a terrorism lead and was doing little by the time de Blasio and New York Police Commissioner William J. Bratton got rid of it.
Bratton blasted Cruz, saying he took "great offense" to Cruz's characterization of Muslims, noting there are 900 Muslim officers in the NYPD.
"The statements he made today is why he’s not gonna become president of this country," Bratton said. De Blasio, standing next to him, said, "Amen."
Cruz needled de Blasio on other issues here Wednesday, telling reporters the mayor is "bought and paid for by the teacher union bosses." Cruz went out of his way to praise former mayor Michael Bloomberg.
The Texas Republican said he doesn't think his quips about "New York values" will hurt him in the state. Cruz needs to pick up as many delegates as he can to catch Trump, and sees an opportunity in New York, which awards delegates by congressional district.
"I'm not worried at all," Cruz told reporters.
"The people of New York have suffered under the liberal left wing values of New York politicians," Cruz said, citing a fracking ban Cruz said has taken away high-paying jobs in upstate New York. And then the combative Texan again took on the tough-talking New Yorker on his own turf.
"One of the reasons why I think we are poised to do very very well here is the people of New York know Donald Trump," he said.