Senator Ted Cruz (R., Texas) managed to turn a disagreement with a crowd of Iowa businesses and farmers into an applause line at the Iowa Agriculture Summit.
Cruz reiterated his opposition to the Renewable Fuels Standard, a popular policy in Iowa that presents a thorny problem for many Republicans who campaign against crony capitalism but want to win the GOP presidential nomination.
“I recognize that this is a gathering of a lot of folks where the answer you’d like me to give is ‘I’m for the RFS, darnit;’ that’d be the easy thing to do,” he said. “But I’ll tell you, people are pretty fed up, I think, with politicians who run around and tell one group one thing, tell another group another thing, and then they go to Washington and they don’t do anything that they said they would do. And I think that’s a big part of the reason we have the problems we have in Washington, is there have been career politicians in both parties that aren’t listening to the American people and aren’t doing what they said they would do.”
And the crowd applauded, giving Cruz the warmest welcome so far in a day that has already featured Jeb Bush, Governor Chris Christie (R., N.J.) — who stated his support for the RFS — former Governor Mike Huckabee (R., Ark.), and former Governor Rick Perry (R., Texas).
They interrupted to clap at times throughout his discussion of immigration policy, as well. The audience welcomed Cruz’s statement that “we’ve got to finally get serious about securing the border and stopping the problem of illegal immigration.” That’s the first aspect of a two-part immigration bill that he thinks would easily pass Congress.
“If we focused on the areas of bipartisan agreement, if we focused on securing the borders and improving legal immigration, we could craft legislation that would sail through Congress,” Cruz said, before saying that Obama is holding up those issues for partisan reasons. The Texas freshman didn’t say what policy he would support with respect to illegal immigrants already in the country, except to say that “amnesty is wrong” and emphasize that “there has been no one more vigorous in fighting President Obama’s unconstitutional amnesty than I’ve been.”
The show of support contrasted with the silence that met Jeb Bush’s summary of his preferred immigration policy, even among a crowd of “business Republicans” who might be presumed to back Bush more readily than Tea Party conservatives. Bush, earlier in the day, gave a detailed summary of his immigration position. On the issues that they both addressed, Cruz and Bush seem to agree; but Bush took it one step further.
“Immigrants that are here need to have a path to legalized status,” Bush told the staid crowd. “What we need to do is to make sure people pay fines, that they learn English, that they work, that they don’t receive government assistance, that they earn legalized status over the long haul, that they come out from the shadows so that they can be productive with a provisional work permit. This is the only serious, thoughtful way, I think, to deal with this.”
Cruz received another round of applause when he returned to the honesty theme. “When I tell you that I will fight with every breath in my body to stop the government regulation that is strangling farms and ranches; that is strangling small businesses; that is killing job growth; when I tell you I’ll fight the EPA from expanding [the definition of] waters of the United States; when I tell you that I’ll fight to stop Obamacare or executive amnesty, then you know you can count on that, that I’m going to do what I said I would do, and I’m going to tell you the truth.”