As far as stump speeches go — Ted Cruz’s being no exception — the general rule of thumb is: If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. The notoriously on-message Texas senator and Republican presidential candidate can always be counted on for a rousing promise to repeal Obamacare, for example, or a lofty analogy between himself and President Ronald Reagan. And to be sure, Cruz checked all the usual boxes while kicking off a three-day swing through Iowa this week.
But he also unveiled a refreshing new party trick: movie quotes — and awesome ones, at that.
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By the time Cruz was halfway through his second stop in the the first-in-the-nation nominating state on Monday, the 44-year-old had already referenced “The Princess Bride,” “Jerry Maguire,” and “The Usual Suspects,” in addition to laying out his typical policy positions, campaign promises, and digs at the Democrats. The three-day trip, which encompasses nearly a dozen events, comes as Cruz is starting to take off in the presidential primary race, presenting a crucial opportunity for the White House hopeful to show early state voters who he really is — which is apparently quite the movie buff, or at least, someone who spend the entire weekend binge watching TV.
Speaking to about 60 people at a town hall in Fort Dodge, Iowa, Cruz railed against The New York Times editorial board for defending President Obama’s 2013 promise that if Americans liked their health care plans, they could keep them under the Affordable Care Act. “Mr. Obama,” wrote the editorial board, “clearly misspoke when he said that.”
“When The New York Times says, ‘misspoke,’ I’m reminded of a line from my favorite movie, ‘The Princess Bride,’” Cruz said before quoting a well-known line from Mandy Patinkin’s character, Inigo Montoya: “You keep on using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
The delivery got some laughs, so Cruz moved on. But one town hall attendee clearly wanted to play along.
“The president promised under Obamacare, the average family’s premiums would decrease $2,500,” said Cruz.
“That’s inconceivable!” exclaimed a man in the audience, referring to Wallace Shawn’s signature line as the criminal mastermind, Vizzini. Cruz pointed and laughed. “All right, now that’s the best line in the movie,” he said. The two then took turns reciting a different Mandy Patinkin line:
Cruz: “Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya.”
Audience member: “You killed my father.”
Cruz: “Prepare to die.”
Later on, when fielding a question about the 10th Amendment, Cruz opened with another famous movie quote — this time from “Jerry Maguire.”
“You had me at hello,” said Cruz, a self-professed “lifelong” adherent of the 10th Amendment. Another town hall attendee then weakly called out: “Show me the money!”
It’s not the first time Cruz has expressed a flair for acting. In high school, he was president of the drama club, landing roles such as Rolfe, the young Nazi in The Sound of Music, and Bill Sikes, the murderer in Oliver. And as a law student at Harvard, Cruz performed in a production of The Crucible, but drank so much grain alcohol at the opening night cast party that he couldn’t make it through the next night’s performance. Earlier this year, meanwhile, Cruz whipped out a fairly decent impression of President John F. Kennedy: