Indianapolis, Ind. — Texas senator Ted Cruz, having won a hard-fought reelection bid last year and out of the presidential campaigning world until at least 2024, relished the opportunity to poke some fun at the 2020 Democratic presidential field at the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting.
“You have Bernie Sanders the socialist, who is actually the moderate in the field on the Second Amendment,” Cruz began. This is technically true, as Sanders spent most of his early career in the U.S. House and Senate reflecting the Vermont electorate’s once-staunch pro-gun positions. However, as Sanders’ presidential ambitions grew clearer and stronger, he began emphasizing the “need to take on the NRA, expand background checks, end the gun show loophole, and ban the sale and distribution of assault weapons.”
Cruz moved on to “My old opponent Beto O’Rourke, who first rose to prominence by joining a sit-in on the floor of the House of Representatives, opposing the Second Amendment.” He noted that O’Rourke wants to ban the AR-15. “They say they want to ban semiautomatics. They don’t even know what a semiautomatic weapon is. If you look at the legislation they draft, they mean ‘scary-looking guns.’”
The Texas senator seemed to enjoy mocking former vice president Joe Biden even more: “After this convention, Joe will be here offering back rubs to anyone who needs them. You just have to sign a waiver first.” Cruz reminded the crowd of Joe Biden’s unorthodox advice for handling a potential burglar. “You want to keep someone away from your house, just fire the shotgun through the door.”
“This is terrific advice if you’re being attacked by a flock of geese,” Cruz quipped.
But Cruz returned to the topic of his former rival, offering a warning to the assembled NRA members about the scale of the challenge in next year’s elections.
“Sometimes you hear money doesn’t matter in politics. Oh, really?” Cruz scoffed. “Let me show you what that means in reality. My campaign had 18 full-time campaign staff. Beto O’Rourke’s campaign had 805.” That astounding figure comes from a Texas Tribune analysis.
“It was the most expensive Senate race in American history. They increased Democratic turnout by more than 100 percent. It went from 1.8 million votes to 4 million votes. Thankfully, we turned out 4.2 million votes,” Cruz said. “That 2018 assault is foreshadowing what’s coming in 2020.”