U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, speaking after days of negative media stories over his cut-short trip to Cancun, gave a fiery speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida, in which he declared, “Donald J. Trump ain’t going anywhere.” He also made a joke about the controversy over his short-lived Cancun vacation.
The Trump comment was met with a round of applause from the audience of conservative activists. Cruz also said that some in Washington are “terrified” of Trump and the “millions and millions of people” who battled for him. “They want him to go away.” That won’t happen, said Cruz.
Cruz also briefly addressed the Cancun controversy by joking about it at the beginning of his speech. “I gotta say, Orlando is awesome! It’s not as nice as Cancun, but it’s nice,” quipped the Texas senator, who cut his trip short after criticism erupted because Texans back home were dealing with power outages and an unprecedented winter storm that has led to deaths. “What an amazing array of speakers here at CPAC. For a second there, I thought we were in Des Moines,” said Cruz, who has said his trip to Cancun was a mistake but that he was trying to “be a dad.”
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Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) says "a whole lot of voices in Washington" are "terrified" of Trump:
"Let me tell you right now, Donald J. Trump ain't goin' anywhere." pic.twitter.com/SGVpHLq6oL
— The Recount (@therecount) February 26, 2021
Although to some degree CPAC 2021 will be a referendum on whether Trump will be the conservative movement’s standard-bearer in months ahead and in 2024, the president didn’t come up much in many of the other first speeches on the first day of the major conservative conference – despite Cruz’s resounding support. Trump is speaking at CPAC in his first post-presidential appearance on Sunday, February 28, 2021. His son, Donald Trump Jr., was speaking on the opening day a few hours after Cruz. A straw poll is measuring attendees’ attitudes toward Trump and various potential 2024 candidates for president; its results will be released on Sunday.
Others also brought up Trump; Josh Mandel, a Republican Senate hopeful in Ohio, told the crowd, “We have a party led by Donald J. Trump.” Other speakers, such as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, did not mention the former president, however, focusing instead on conservative policy positions on issues ranging from COVID-19 to immigration.
Cruz tried to downplay any rifts in the party, saying people are unified over “liberty,” and making repeated references to Star Wars and Scottish freedom fighter William Wallace.
“Bernie is wearing mittens, and AOC is telling us she was murdered, and the media desperately, desperately wants to see a Republican civil war,” Cruz said. “Liberty is under assault and what are we going to do? We will fight.”
He said that “what can unite conservatives, libertarians and those who believe in the Constitution and Bill of Rights is a love of liberty.”
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Cruz Said the Country Is in ‘Dark Days’
“They look at the people who went to battle for Donald J Trump and they’re terrified. Donald Trump ain’t goin’ anywhere.”
— James DeSarno (@j_desarno) February 26, 2021
According to Cruz, Republicans are the “party of steel workers and construction workers and pipeline workers and taxi cab drivers, and cops and firefighters, and waitresses and the men and women with calluses on their hands. This is our party.”
He said the “corporate media” wants to silence those people.
“These are dark days,” said Cruz. “The media tells us this is the new galactic empire forever and a thousand years.” But he said that he believes “Joe Biden and the radicals in his administration – they are already overshooting. They are already going too far. Their policies don’t work, and the country will come back to sanity and 2022 is going to be a fantastic election year and so is 2024, and we stand together.”
Cruz also joked about masks, asking, “how much virtue do you want to signal?” and saying officials want Americans to wear masks “for the next 300 years.”
“And by the way, not just one but two, three, four – you can’t have too many masks,” he said. “This is just dumb.”
CPAC organizers have been enforcing a mask requirement for the convention and checking people’s temperatures before letting them inside.
Cruz Chanted the Word ‘Freedom’
Cruz – and members of the audience – chanted the word “freedom,” emulating a scene from the Mel Gibson movie, Braveheart, that focused on Wallace’s battle for Scottish independence.
“We are gathered in dark times where the hard left and socialists control the levers of government,” said Cruz. “They control the White House,” and both branches of Congress.
Cruz referenced Wallace, saying that the “media here looks at the men and women gathered here, at the young people gathered here, as dangerous radicals. This is the rebel alliance.”
He said the media are “terrified of the rebels who are here.”
He acknowledged there were “tensions in our party.” He attributed that, in part, to conservatives believing “in individuality.”
“Number one, we defend liberty,” said Cruz, acknowledging that he mixed Star Wars and Star Trek references during his speech.
Cruz said there are double standards when it comes to COVID-19; he said that “you can go out and protest, you can go out and scream and yell, ‘abolish the police,’ and this virus, magically no one will get infected… if you go to church and say Amazing Grace, everyone’s going to die.”
He also accused Democrats of trying to “turn the Capitol into a military outpost in Baghdad” because they think half of the country “is dangerous.”
“We stand together. Defend liberty, defending the Constitution; in the immortal words of William Wallace, ‘Freedom!'” said Cruz.
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