ATHENS — There were chicken and fish on their plates, and Republican presidential contender Ted Cruz added some red meat as he roused a Georgia Republican Party convention crowd at The Classic Center in downtown Athens on Friday night.
Cruz, a first-term U.S. senator from Texas who announced his run for the GOP presidential nomination in late March, touted himself as a true conservative, someone outside the Republican mainstream who can raise money and draw crowds, and who is part of “a new generation that is stepping forward” in the Republican Party.
Alternately serious and playing for laughs — which he received in abundance — Cruz told the hundreds of people who attended Friday’s GOP dinner that “the stakes have never been higher. If we spend another four or eight years on the same path, I believe we will do irreparable damage to our country.”
Espousing tax reform and regulatory reform as keys to boosting growth and opportunity in the United States, Cruz called for “a simple flat tax” on income that would “let every American fill out their taxes on a postcard, and when we do that, we need to abolish the IRS.”
Then, jokingly suggesting that the 90,000 IRS workers who would be out of a job should be put to work guarding America’s southern border, Cruz added, “Just imagine that the first thing you see [if you’re crossing the border from Mexico into the United States] is 90,000 IRS agents. You’d turn around and run home, too.”
Continuing his joking, Cruz riffed on the federal government’s surveillance programs, telling the crowd, “Please leave your cellphones on. I want President Obama to hear everything we’re saying here tonight.”
Cruz used his speech to run through a number of policy positions, from repealing Obamacare to defending constitutional rights — the right to bear arms, due process, search and seizure limitations and limits on federal power got special mention — to abandoning the Common Core curriculum for the nation’s public schools, and said acting on those issues “has got to be a grassroots movement.”
“Washington is fundamentally broken,” he said. “I’ve been there and I’ve seen it. … The answer will come from the American people.”
Cruz ended his speech with a rafter-shaking crescendo, bringing the crowd to its feet with his high-volume exhortation, “We are rising up to save that shining city on a hill that is the United States of America.”
Cruz was one of three national headliners for the state GOP convention. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, widely believed to be considering a run at the Republican presidential nomination, addressed a breakfast crowd, and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, a declared GOP presidential contender, spoke to convention delegates Friday afternoon.
Athens Banner Herald