Editor’s note: Below is the video and transcript of Senator Ted Cruz’s speech at the David Horowitz Freedom Center’s Texas Weekend. The inaugural event took place May 3rd-5th at the Las Colinas Resort in Dallas, Texas.
David Horowitz: We need leaders like Ted Cruz. And that’s why we are honored to have him on the platform today. (applause)
Ted Cruz: Thank you. Thank you very, very much. Thank you very, very much. It is great to be joining you all this evening. You know, I will observe, David, Washington is a strange, strange place. People are very, very surprised when you actually go there and do what you said you were going to do. (laughter)
I want to start by observing for all of you non-Texans, I apologize that Louie Gohmert is so soft-spoken. (laughter) That he has no opinions or courage or willingness to charge into the fray. And no sense of humor whatsoever. For the love of God, tell a joke once, Louie. (laughter)
I will point out that he described being mistaken for James Taylor. I haven’t had that experience. (laughter) But I have, in fact, been on an airplane once when a page went over asking for Tom Cruise to please come up.
And I walked up fairly sheepish. I said, “I’m — I think maybe you’re looking for me.” (laughter) You have never seen so many disappointed flight attendants. (laughter) Yes, it was, they’re just, like, “Oh.”
And I have to admit, Louie, your story of your five-year-old also remind me or Caroline, our eldest, who’s five. And in the course of the senate campaign there was one Saturday morning about 6:30 in the morning. And I was at home in the bedroom and I was on the phone doing a radio interview.
And Caroline came bursting into our room to come play with mommy and daddy. And Heidi, my wife, ran over and grabbed Caroline, pulled her out and said, “Not now, sweetie. Not now. Daddy’s doing a radio interview.” Caroline crossed her arms and she said, “Politics, politics, politics. It’s always politics.” (laughter) So, Louie, I feel your pain. (laughter)
And, you know, Bill, I have to say the Star Wars analogy at the end I thought was really quite compelling and I’m really waiting for the next presidential cycle when we can put Bill on national television and have him do a Jedi mind trick. (laughter) These aren’t the candidates you’re looking for. (laughter)
And I will confess as I sat there, I had an image suddenly of Jimmy Carter saying, “Barack, I am your father.” (laughter) And let me say additionally, the host of this gathering, David Horowitz, is a man who is utterly fearless. (applause)
And that is a very, very rare commodity. You know, David reminds me of a Texan, Chuck Norris. (laughter) Now, some people wear Superman pajamas. Superman wears Chuck Norris pajamas. (laughter) And Chuck Norris wears David Horowitz pajamas. (applause)
But David is someone who understands we’re fighting to take our country back. He understands the severity of the threat in significant part because he’s been on the other side.
You know, we were visiting over dinner about how couple of months ago Jane Mayer in The New Yorker Magazine wrote a nasty hit piece. And David knew about that because he’s had a nasty hit piece written on him by her as well. Where she recounted that some time ago I’d talked about the fact that Barack Obama was four years ahead of me at Harvard law school.
And I made the point that when he and I were both students there were more Communists on the Harvard law school faculty than there were Republicans. There were quite a few who were self-described Marxists.
And she wrote this as a sensational, horrible Joe McCarthy has returned because this is terrible. And then the media all went crazy. I have to admit, our response in our office is we put up on Facebook a clip from Casablanca that MSNBC is shocked, shocked to discover there are Marxists at Harvard. (laughter)
I’m just impressed they think it’s a bad thing. (laughter) Hey, that’s making real progress. If they’re running away from it, I am glad of it. My favorite was actually this obscure blogger that was attacking me and said, “Cruz just doesn’t understand the difference between Marxist and Marxian.” (laughter)
I confess that is correct. I have utterly no idea what the difference is between Marxist and Marxian. And I would welcome anyone to make that argument to the American people.
I want to thank you all for being here. I want to thank you all for being engaged in the fight to turn our country around because it is — we are facing enormous perils. We are facing enemies abroad and at home.
And everyone’s here because we love this country. We love what the United States of America has meant for the world. And we are committed to doing everything we can to preserving this nation as a bacon — beacon of freedom to the world.
What I want to talk to you all tonight about is three different things. Number one, defending national security. Number two, preserving US sovereignty. And number three, restoring growth and opportunity.
Let’s start with national security. The major focus of this gathering. We have all sorts of challenges. We have a challenge that you all have done a terrific job examining. The challenge of radical Islamic terrorists.
And what a sad statement that we are living in a country where the president of the United States is unwilling to utter the words radical Islamic terrorist. You’re not going to win a war on terror if you’re not aware you’re fighting a war on terror.
And we have perils across the globe. We have number one the nation of Iran which I think may well pose the greatest national security threat to this entire country as Iran is proceeding by all appearances headlong towards developing nuclear weapons capacity.
And a nuclear Iran poses, in my opinion, an existential threat to this nation and to the nation of Israel. And if there’s one principle we have learned from history it’s that bullies and tyrants don’t respect weakness. The only thing they respect and understand is strength.
And one of the things that is so concerning about this president’s foreign policy is that I think it is hard to imagine that the Iranian leaders are doing anything but scoffing at the prospect of any serious repercussions from their proceeding to gaining nuclear weapons.
That is extraordinarily dangerous not just for what it would do for the region. Because once Iran acquired nuclear weapons we would immediately see proliferation throughout the region. And that’s just what we need is a bunch of nations with unstable governments and major radical Islamic elements in their society have nukes throughout the Middle East.
But it also exponentially increases the chances that those weapons would tragically be used against the nation of Israel or the nation of the United States. There are only two places those weapons would be used.
A second threat that has been driven home recently is you look at North Korea. North Korea’s a nation that has nuclear weapons. It is a nation whose leader is explicitly and openly drawing up targeting plans to launch those nuclear weapons to US cities.
One of the cities they targeted was Austin. (laughter) I have to admit, I was speaking at a gathering in Austin and someone from Austin observed that it must’ve been a mistake. They could not have meant to target the People’s Republic of Travis County. (laughter)
But, you know, look it is easy to make light of this. Because we don’t think they have the technology to miniaturize their nukes and put them on an ICBM and get them here. So they probably can’t do that. Isn’t that comforting?
Although, again, our intelligence services are disagreed on that. So some of our intelligence services think in fact they can do it. Others in the intelligence community think they can’t. So there’s a reasonable disagreement.
But think of the consequence. We have an unstable new leader who we don’t understand publicly declaring hostilities and an intention to target and potentially fire nuclear weapons at US cities. These are dangerous times.
And what does the President of the United States do? He sends John Kerry. By the way, how much better would it be if he’d sent John O’Neill? (applause) Now, John O’Neill would get their attention. (laughter)
But he sent John Kerry to offer a peace offering that we’ll pull down our missile defense from the Pacific if they agree to back down slightly for the moment sort of. (laughter) That’s what you call effective negotiation.
And one of the things that underscored is just about a month ago was the 30 year anniversary of Ronald Reagan’s SDI speech. How many of you all remember that speech? You remember the reactions of the Left? Of the newspapers, of the academy. Star Wars.
This was a crazy cowboy war in space. Cannot happen. I have to admit, I thought of that back in December when I traveled to the nation of Israel. And it was right after they had just seen an incredible rocket attack.
Thousands upon thousands of rockets and the Iron Dome system, the missile defense system there had intercepted nearly 90% of the rockets that were coming in to kill their citizens. And it reminded me, how many of you remember the analogy in the ’80s, it’s like a bullet hitting a bullet. It is impossible.
Let me tell you something, you guys go home to your computers. Let me encourage you to google the following. Iron dome wedding. It’s one of the most amazing videos. It is a home video that was taken of a wedding occurring in Israel.
And the wedding photographer, you hear the music, people are celebrating. And a whole wave of rockets comes in. And the wedding photographer just goes up and you see them being intercepted by the Iron Dome missile one after the other after the other. And it looks like fireworks over the wedding. It is a spectacular video and demonstration of what can be done.
And the first thing that occurred to me when we see North Korea targeting US cities is, “Why don’t we have missile defense along the Pacific that if some lunatic fires an ICBM we can take it down and we can retaliate in a way that no lunatic would do so and threaten the United States of America?” (applause)
And a third example that you all have talked about already quite a bit is Benghazi. You know, Benghazi is something the more you look at it, the worse it gets. We had about two months ago a hearing in the Armed Services Committee. And we got a fair number of questions answered.
We had Leon Panetta, the outgoing Secretary of Defense. And we had General Dempsey, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff both testify. We discovered a lot of things. Number one, we discovered that during the attack of Benghazi the President received one briefing ten to 15 minutes long at the — in the first hour of the attack. And after that, neither the Secretary of Defense nor the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff had any other conversations with President Obama.
We learned that during the entire time of the attack, neither the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff nor the Secretary of the Defense had any conversations whatsoever with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
We learned that the Defense Department had sent additional defenses to Yemen at the request of the embassy there but didn’t send it to Benghazi because State never requested those additional defense.
But the Defense Department said had additional forces been sent there, that attack could’ve been prevented. We learned that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said it was, quote, surprising that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she didn’t know that our ambassador had requested additional security because it was not safe in Benghazi.
We learned that after the attack occurred for 22 days the site remained unsecured. Because the State Department never requested the Defense Department to go in and secure the site. And as a result you had news crews like CNN walking on and discovering secure documents because we didn’t bother to lock it down.
We learned quite a bit and yet there are a lot of open questions. To date, Congress has yet to hear from the survivors of Benghazi. The people who were there.
And by the way, we also learned the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said he thought it was obvious, immediately obvious that it was a coordinated terrorist attack because when the rooftop of the annex received multiple incoming mortar shells, spontaneous protestors don’t have the ability to fire multiple mortar shells and hit a single rooftop.
That can only be an organized military attack, which he said he knew the instant it occurred. Now, if you look at some of the news that has broken in the last week it has gotten substantially worse.
We now know that there were four self-described whistleblowers within the State Department, several of whom have retained counsel. And they are alleging that they have been threatened retaliation if they describe what happened in Benghazi.
Just today The Weekly Standard reported the change in the talking points that the intelligence community presented versus what the State Department edited. The first talking points from the intelligence community said this was an attack with major elements of Al Qaeda.
And I would encourage all of you to go and read that Weekly Standard article that is out today and just read the memos side by side. Because the intelligence community wrote what occurred and then State edited it all out. And what was an organized terrorist attack that took the lives of four Americans became a spontaneous protest against some silly, ridiculous internet video.
And the administration sent the UN ambassador on five Sunday shows to tell the American people statements that were categorically false. And that by all appearances now they knew were categorically false.
Now, I am encouraged that on Wednesday the House will be having an additional hearing. And I think it — I hope it will be a revealing hearing. There needs to be real accountability.
And by the way, Hillary Clinton said, “What does it matter whether it was terrorism or not?” You know, there’s some statements that are self-refuting. Jay Carney, the White House Press Secretary, said, “Benghazi was a long time ago. Can’t you guys forget about it?” He didn’t say that, but that’s what he meant.
But what we haven’t heard anything about is a single person apprehended. A single person killed who was responsible for Benghazi. What does this administration effectively say when there is no effort to track down and apprehend or kill the attackers who murder the sitting US ambassador for Americans? It encourages those attacks all the more.
What do you think Iran and North Korea think as they watch that? Say, “Well, gosh, you can attack Americans with impunity.” And apparently what happens instead is the State Department will apologize for an internet video.
That only encourages further violence. These are dangerous times. And I encourage all of you, this is a group that is focusing on the underlying root core issues. Is focusing on being serious about protecting our national security. And I encourage that because these are times when not many in Washington seem focused on doing that.
Let me talk about a second priority. Preserving US sovereignty. One of the methods that those on the Left have used to attack this country is not through bullets and bombs. It’s through undermining the institutions of rule of law in our country. And making us more and more subject to international institutions.
Before I was elected to the US Senate I served as the Solicitor General of Texas, the chief lawyer for the State in front of the US Supreme Court. And the biggest fight in my tenure as Solicitor General was a case called Medellin versus Texas.
Medellin began with a horrific crime where two teenage girls were horribly murdered in Houston in 1993. But the case took a very, very strange turn because the World Court, the judicial arm of the United Nations, issued an order to the United States to re-open the convictions of 51 murderers across this country.
It’s the first time in the history of this country any foreign court has ever tried to bind the US justice system. Texas stood up and fought the World Court. I had the honor, I argued this case twice in front of the US Supreme Court.
On the other side were 94 nations, all of which came in against us. All of which argued that the US justice system should be completely subservient to the United Nations and the World Court.
And also on the other side, sadly, was the President of the United States. And it was actually President George W. Bush. Now, I will say as an aside, I got my start in politics working for George W. Bush on his presidential campaign. I remain a big fan of his in many respects.
Indeed, I met my wife, Heidi, on the Bush campaign. We were one of eight marriages that came out of that campaign. (laughter) So a lousy joke that I’ve told all over the State of Texas is, “Whatever else anyone thinks of George W. Bush, in our house he will always be a uniter and not a divider.” (laughter)
But in this instance, he received some really, really poor advice because George W. Bush signed a two-paragraph order that purported to order the state courts to obey the World Court. And so Texas stood up and we fought the United Nations. We fought the World Court, we fought 94 nations and we fought the President of the United States.
Who I would note, by the way, was the former governor of Texas. Was a Republican. And a friend. And yet nonetheless, the State of Texas went before the US Supreme Court and I had the honor of representing the State saying the President has no authority whatsoever under our Constitution to give away US sovereignty. (applause)
And by a margin of six to three the US Supreme Court agreed. Ruled the World Court has no authority in our courts and the President has no ability to make our courts subject to the World Court of the United Nations. (applause)
And I would point out as a quick aside that in Texas we were willing to stand up against a Republican president, against the former governor of Texas, even though he was a friend and a good man. Where are the Democrats standing up against President Obama’s abuse of power?
Fifty-five Democrats in the Senate and yet crickets chirping as we have had a president disregard the Constitution over and over and over again. It’s a real question about our democratic system when one of the two major parties treats it as a partisan game rather than recognizing any limits on presidential authority.
About six weeks ago I was proud to stand side by side with my friend Rand Paul in a 13-hour filibuster on this administration’s drone policy. (applause) Other than Ron Wyden, not a single Democrat joined us in that.
Does anyone doubt if it had been President George W. Bush that every Democrat would’ve been there lighting their hair on fire? (laughter) That we would’ve been debating impeachment proceedings if it were a Republican president implementing the exact same policy.
And yet the Democrats apparently did not choose to do anything to hold the President accountable to the Constitution. Third and final point, first two were foreign. The third and final one is domestic. Restoring growth and opportunity.
First two were pessimistic. I hope the third will be far more optimistic. By the way, one of the great things, Louie, of going third, is all of my jokes are funnier when people have had three glasses of wine. (laughter) There is a method to the madness.
Louie Gohmert: I’m still not setting my hair on fire, though. (laughter)
Ted Cruz: I thought that’s how you got that way. (laughter) I think the top priority of every elected official should be restoring economic growth. Economic growth is the precondition to solving every other problem we have.
You know, the last four years our economy has averaged 0.9% growth a year. There’s only one other period since World War II of four consecutive years of less than 1% growth. That was 1979 to 1982.
It’s coming out of the Jimmy Carter era. Same failed economic policies, out of control spending, out of control debt, out of control taxes and out of control regulations. And it produced the identical stagnation.
Every other problem depends on getting growth back. If you want to see the 23 million American people out of work back to work, we’ve got to have growth. If you want to turn around our out of control deficits and our unsustainable debt, you have got to have growth.
If you want to ensure that we remain the strongest military force in the world to protect our national security, we must have growth. There’s a reason just a few years ago the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said the greatest national security threat to this country was our national debt.
I’ll tell you when I was traveling overseas I met with a CIA station chief in one of our foreign bases. And I asked, “What do you see as the greatest threat?” And given all of these threats, I envisioned all sorts of things.
And the immediate response that was given to me was the national debt and the economy of this country. Which was really striking for someone on the ground dealing with serious hostiles but yet he said, “Look, if we don’t have the economic strength.”
How did we win the Cold War? Ronald Reagan bankrupted the Soviets. If we bankrupt ourselves, that’s how we undermine our national security. And I think economic growth should be a bipartisan objective.
Republicans and Democrats should be willing to work together to get growth back. And of all the reasons growth matters, the most important is that growth is integral to opportunity.
For a long, long time I’ve been arguing for what I call opportunity conservatism which is that every principle we as conservatives talk about should focus like a laser on opportunity. On easing the means of assent up the economic ladder.
You know, a lot of folks have agonized about why we lost. Why Republicans lost in 2012. And I think it comes down to two words: 47%. And I don’t mean the comment. Look, I think Mitt Romney is a good and decent man. And anyone can make an ill-advised comment.
What I mean is the narrative in the last election. The narrative of the last election was the 47% of this country who are not paying income tax, who are dependent on government, we don’t have to worry about them.
I got to tell you, I can’t think of an idea more antithetical to what we as conservatives believe than that. For one thing, it buys into the notion of the Left that the economic pie is fixed. That it never changes.
And if that’s right, the arguments for wealth distribution make a lot of sense. If the economic pie never changes, it’s very hard to justify so few having so much more than so many. What we understand as conservatives is the economic pie isn’t fixed.
That it is growing and dynamic and indeed the free market system in the United States of America has been the greatest engine for wealth creation, for opportunity, for prosperity in the history of the world.
In my view, Republicans should be the party of the 47%. Look at unemployment right now. Unemployment is not evenly distributed. College graduates right now, unemployment’s 3.8%. If you’re a high skilled college graduate, you got a pretty robust labor market.
Those without high school degrees, unemployment’s 12%. Hispanics, it’s nearly 10%. African Americans, 14%. Young people age 16 to 19, it’s over 25%. You know, one-third of young people aged 25 to 29 have moved back in with their parents. Makes a lot of parents excited. (laughter)
The people who have been hurt the most by the Obama economy are the most vulnerable among us. Because look, when you pound small businesses with taxes, with regulations, job killing regulations, who do you think gets hurt?
You know what, the CEOs do fine. John and Sherry, you all are wonderful. You all are doing fine. (laughter) Relatively speaking. But when you pound small businesses the people that lose their jobs are those starting to climb the economic ladders.
Those are the people that get laid off or never get hired to begin with. Take something like Obamacare, and by the way I think we need to repeal every single word of Obamacare. (applause)
But who’s getting hurt by Obamacare? If you’re a young person right now, you’re coming out of school because of Obamacare the odds are substantially higher you’re not going to find a job because more and more small businesses are not hiring or are laying people off.
If you do get a job, the odds are substantially higher your employer’s not going to offer health insurance because more and more employers are dropping health insurance because of Obamacare.
And if you’re lucky enough to get a job that has health insurance it is absolutely certain your premiums are going to be substantially higher. Three years ago when Obamacare passed, President Obama promised the American people the average American family’s premium would drop $2,500.
Has anyone seen that happen? And that was, by the way, by the end of his first term. He gave a time commitment for the date on which that would happen. In fact, the average American family’s premium has gone up by $3,000. $5,500.
And who do you think gets hurt the most in that? Look, the rich can afford another $5,500. They’re not happy about it but they can afford it. Someone who is struggling to make ends meet, to put food on the table, $5,500 out of their pocket is a major hardship.
Seniors, there are 14.8 million seniors on Medicare Advantage. A heavy percentage of which are low income. 38% of Hispanic seniors are on Medicare Advantage. Because of Obamacare, half of them are going to lose their Medicare Advantage. Seven million seniors.
Why is it that Republicans don’t ask President Obama, “Why are you taking away the Medicare Advantage from half of the 38% of Hispanic seniors that are relying on it?” Why are low income seniors getting hammered by this failed policy?
When we debated the Obamacare repeal on the floor of the Senate I read a newspaper article from Oklahoma about a single mom there who was working at a fast food restaurant. And she described how she and all of her co-workers had their hours forcibly reduced to 29 hours a week because their employer would go out of business otherwise.
And what this single mom said was, “Look, I have two little kids at home. I can’t feed my kids on 29 hours a week and neither can the other single moms who are working here.”
We need to understand that the most successful way to lift people up is a robust economic system, is economic growth, is a system — two-thirds of all new jobs come from small businesses. When you have stagnation, the people at the bottom get hammered.
We need to champion lifting them up because there’s no nation on earth that has allowed so many millions to come from all over the world with nothing and achieve anything.
And I would note two things in conclusion. One, in my life as in all of your lives, the ideas of opportunity are not abstract. This is not an academic university seminar. We all understand this in our own lives.
For me, my dad’s from Cuba. He grew up in Cuba. As a kid, when he was 14 he began fighting in the Cuban Revolution. Actually fighting alongside Fidel Castro. He didn’t know Castro was a Communist. None of the kids did.
But he spent four years fighting in the revolution. When he turned 17, he was thrown in prison and tortured. My dad was beaten almost to death. Today my father is a pastor here in Dallas. Many of you all know him.
To this day his front teeth are not his own because they were kicked out of his mouth in a Cuban jail when he was a teenager. He fled Cuba in 1957. He came to Texas, landed in Austin. He was 18, couldn’t speak English, had $100 sewn into his underwear. And he washed dishes making $0.50 an hour to pay his way through the University of Texas.
He got a job, started a small business, worked towards the American Dream. Now, my dad has been my hero my entire life. But you know what I find most incredible about his story? How commonplace it is.
Every one of us here has a story just like this. We could walk up here one at a time and tell the exact same story because all of us are the children of those who risked everything for freedom.
And I think that’s the most fundamental DNA of what it means to be an American is to value freedom and opportunity above all else. That’s what’s being threatened. That’s why we’re here fighting.
And the last point I’ll make is change can come quickly. It’s easy to get down at the status quo. To hear horror after horror after horror and think there’s nothing we can do. I want you to think back to 2005. 2005 George W. Bush had just been re-elected president.
Republicans controlled both houses of Congress and we had a large majority of the governorships all over the country. Democrat consultants were going on television publicly crying in their beer talking about a, quote, permanent Republican majority.
That was 2005. 2006 we lost Congress. 2008 Barack Obama was elected. 2009 Obamacare passed. And here we are today. Politics can change fast.
Now, I’m convinced Republicans are in a very good position to win a majority of the Senate in 2014 if we stand for principle. And I can tell you in the next two years I intend to work very, very hard to make that happen.
We can turn this around and it can happen quickly. And so I will tell all of you, I am honored. I am humbled. I am blessed to be able to stand with you to stand shoulder to shoulder as together we’re working to preserve freedom, to preserve this nation as a shining beacon of hope and change. As a shining city on a hill for the world. Thank you and God bless you. (applause)
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