Politics & Policy

Cruz Rocks the Gridiron Dinner

Polarizing senator brings unity through jokes.

Democrats and Republicans are giving Senator Ted Cruz strong reviews for his speech Saturday to the annual Gridiron dinner, a comedic event at the Gridiron club for journalists in Washington, D.C.

The speech, which was equal parts arrogant and self-deprecating, prompted Politico’s Mike Allen to say that “even Dems said [Cruz] knocked it out of the park.”

Cruz, who received an undergraduate degree from Princeton and a law degree from Harvard, mocked his own Ivy League background.

“Then there was a tense encounter I had with Dianne Feinstein,” Cruz said. “I was accused of acting like some pompous, condescending know-it-all. We’re all familiar with the type, and at Harvard Law School there is even a word for it: alumni.”

Cruz, who has never been held back by excessive humility, mocked his own filibuster and his rocky relations with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell:

I’m here officially representing Mitch McConnell. He asked me himself. And when Leader McConnell wants something, who am I to say no? . . . Twenty-one hours and 19 minutes [in the filibuster] — hearing nothing but my favorite sound. We’re talking Biden territory. And so typical of how this town works, they cut me off just as I was coming to my point.

By the way, does anyone know the record for the longest speech ever at this dinner? I looked it up, and in the late 1800s, New York Senator Chauncey DePew enthralled his audience until well past midnight. So loosen up those white ties, settle back, and what do you say we make Gridiron history?

Reaching back to his Canadian roots, Cruz managed to work in a swipe at another freshman senator:

Canadians are so polite, mild-mannered, modest, unassuming, open-minded. Thank God my family fled that oppressive influence before it could change me. I might add that Canadians are also extremely efficient. No red tape at all in handling my application to renounce citizenship. They had that thing approved before I even sent it in. The simple truth is that for a very brief time my family lived on the plains of Calgary. That does not make me a Canadian. Although Elizabeth Warren says that it does make me an Algonquin Indian.

Cruz, who paints himself as a Washington outsider, won applause from the insider crowd and got some hearty laughs.

— Alec Torres is a William F. Buckley Fellow at the National Review Institute.

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