Tea-party superstar Ted Cruz delivered the inaugural speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference, the annual event that draws thousands of young Republicans, an array of GOP activists, and presidential contenders hoping to woo the party faithful.
The Texas senator addressed his remarks to the young people who comprised much of the audience in National Harbor, Md., making a case for how the GOP can win back their votes.
“Who are the two Republicans who have most energized young people?” he asked.
Shouts came from the audience: “Ron Paul!”
“Ronald Reagan and Ron Paul,” Cruz said.
They were not, he noted, young politicians, but septuagenarians who “stood for principle and painted a bold, inspiring picture of America.”
Despite President Obama’s popularity among millenials, Cruz argued that his policies have devastated them. “You know economists are referring to this generation of young people as a lost generation?” he asked, and called Obamacare a “massive transfer of wealth from young people to everybody else.”
Cruz, a potential 2016 candidate, has trips to early primary states on his April calendar: he is slated to appear at a homeschooling rally in Iowa later this month and will make not one but two visits to New Hampshire in April.
The senator’s largest applause line came when he returned to a familiar trope, calling for the repeal of “every single word of Obamacare.”
When Cruz led the push to defund Obamacare last fall, he argued that repeal of the law would be impossible once it was enacted; people would become “addicted” to the subsidies they received under the law, he said.
He has since changed his tune. “When millions of Americans stood up last fall and said stop this train wreck, this disaster that is hurting millions of people . . . the mainstream media said you can’t do anything to stop this.”
“Yes we can,” he said, to whoops and cheers from the audience.