The Corner

Cruz: ‘Count Me a Proud Wacko Bird’

“Liberty is under assault from every direction,” Senator Ted Cruz (R., Texas) told an enthusiastic crowd at the Conservative Political Action Conference, but conservatives are finally starting to turn the tide in their favor. “For the last three weeks, conservatives have been winning,” he said during his keynote address on Saturday. “We’re winning right now.”

Cruz, who spoke without a script, prompter, or podium, closed out the three-day gathering on an optimistic note, and largely devoid of the calls for change or moderation that were prevalent in many of the speeches delivered throughout the conference.

The fast-rising GOP star said his “biggest surprise” since being sworn in as Senator in January was “the defeatist attitude among so many Republicans who’ve been in a Washington a long time.” He didn’t mention Senator John McCain (R., Ariz.) by name, but Cruz did address McCain’s recent comments describing Cruz, Rand Paul, and other libertarian-leaning Republicans as “wacko birds.”

“I have to admit, when Rand and I first heard that, we thought that it was a new kind of drone,” he joked. “If standing for liberty and the Constitution makes you a wacko bird, then count me a proud wacko bird.”

Cruz spoke at length about Paul’s 13-hour filibuster to demand greater transparency from the Obama administration regarding its drone policy, which “captivated the country.” Paul and his supporters had won an important victory for defenders of the Constitution, Cruz said, by simply “standing for principle.”

Other recent victories included the implementation of automatic spending cuts via sequestration, which he called a “first, small step . . . to reining in our uncontrollable spending and debt.” Additionally, he cited the vote earlier this week on his amendment to delay funding for Obamacare, which every GOP senator ultimately supported, despite some being “not thrilled” at the endeavor. The crowd stood and applauded.

Cruz offered two suggestions as to how conservatives can “keep winning.” “Number one: defend the Constitution, and number two, champion growth and opportunity.” The GOP should embrace “opportunity conservatism,” he added, with an emphasis on “easing the means of ascent up the economic ladder.”

America is facing a “fundamental choice between surrendering or standing up now to defend our liberty,” Cruz concluded, rallying the audience to a frenzy. “Do we surrender or do we stand up now?”

The CPAC crowd answered loudly, and correctly. “That’s change we can believe in,” Cruz said.

Andrew Stiles — Andrew Stiles is a political reporter for National Review Online. He previously worked at the Washington Free Beacon, and was an intern at The Hill newspaper. Stiles is a 2009 ...

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