Riding the wave of his newfound, yet somewhat sizzling celebrity, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz on Saturday finished making his rounds to the early presidential primary state of Iowa.
Cruz stoked the Tea Party movement that ushered him into office while giving the keynote speech at Iowa’s Reagan Dinner GOP fundraiser Friday night. He followed up the event by joining Rep. Steve King for the Iowa Republican’s annual pheasant hunt, laying the groundwork of connections in the crucial early-voting state.
The Texas Republican brought some of his most popular one-liners and sharp criticism of party establishment to Iowa’s Reagan Dinner GOP fundraiser. “I’m convinced we’re facing a new paradigm in politics,” he said, “a paradigm that is the rise of the grassroots.”
Cruz sits squarely in the center of a growing rift between the far-right factions of the Republican Party and the Washington establishment. The wounds were exacerbated this month in Cruz’s failed attempt to stop the implementation of President Obama’s signature health care law. After staging a 21-hour faux-filibuster in protest of the law, and setting in motion the 16-day government shutdown he was instrumental in bringing about, Cruz became the ire of the more moderate factions of his party.
“Had we stood together, I’m convinced the outcome of this fight would have been very, very different,” Cruz said before the crowd of 600 attendees Friday.
Cruz has remained coy about presidential ambitions, but he has ramped up appearances around the country in the weeks since the government shutdown ended. Earlier this week, he received hero’s welcome at several events in his home state, where his unrelenting opposition to the political mainstream has reshaped Republican politics.
As the current self-appointed leader of the most radical faction of the GOP, Cruz insisted that the way forward for Republicans is through the conservative base that has already unseated a number of moderate Republicans through primary challenges. With both parties looking to the midterm elections and beyond, Cruz was proudly out of step with other Republicans, including Iowa’s governor Terry Branstad, who called for the kind of party unity Cruz has no time for.
“For everyone who talks about wanting to win elections in 2014, particularly in an off year, a non presidential year—nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing matters more than an energized and and active vocal grassroots America,” Cruz said. “That’s how you get elected.”