GOP Needs New Approach, Texas Senator Ted Cruz Tells Ohio Republicans

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz speaks to Ohio Republicans in Cuyahoga County.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz speaks to Ohio Republicans in Cuyahoga County.
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Since the November 2012 election, there’s been much angst within the GOP over how the party can reverse its fortunes in future elections.

Ted Cruz, the Tea Party-backed successor to retired Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, says there’s nothing wrong with the conservative principles he and many Republicans espouse.

At the county GOP’s annual dinner, he said what sank Republican chances for claiming the presidency and Senate majority was the perception that the party didn’t care about working-class voters.

CRUZ: “The overall story that was conveyed to voters nationally, which is the 47 percent who are dependent on government, we don’t have to worry about them. I got to tell you, I cannot think of an idea more antithetical to what it means to being a conservative.”

Cruz said if Republicans want to win elections again, the party also has to appeal to young voters and minorities.

For him, it’s a question of how to tailor conservatives’ basic argument to suit those constituents. For instance, here’s his argument against increasing taxes, regulations and spending.

CRUZ: “The people who are hurt the most are those beginning to climb the economic ladder, beginning to reach those first few rungs, who inevitably are the very first to lose their jobs.”

He said what the party needs now are new leaders with big ideas.

CRUZ: “I remain convinced that the longest-lasting legacy of Barack Obama is going to be a new generation of leaders in the Republican Party who stand for liberty and who take this country back.”

Cruz received a standing ovation from the crowd that packed the dining room at the Independence Holiday Inn.

Among the GOP leaders present were state treasurer Josh Mandel, secretary of state Jon Husted and several members of Congress, including freshman Congressman David Joyce.

Cruz is in just his second month as a senator, but is seen as a rising Republican star. His appearance in Ohio -- an all-important swing state in presidential races -- suggests he may be looking ahead to a possible presidential bid.

He’s been criticized by some Republicans for his loquacious and confrontational style. But he’s said the voters elected him to shake up Washington, and that’s just what he’ll do.

After the speech, Peggy Meyer, a GOP ward leader in West Park, says Cruz’s words resonated with her.

MEYER: “Because we’re kind of down in the dumps, you know, (the) Republican Party, but he gave us encouragement.”

She wants the party to have more leaders like him -- hardline conservatives who won’t compromise their principles.

John Fox from Euclid is hopeful Cruz carries the message that there’s room for diversity in the party.

FOX: “And I think he can reach out to audiences that we know -- I mean it’s no secret that we have to try and reach out, too. The people that we didn’t get last November.”

Cruz’s speech focused on the economy, and it wasn’t clear if he thought the new Republican approach should include changing opinions on other issues.

Later, when I asked him if Republicans might win the support of more young voters if the party backed same-sex marriage, Cruz answered...

CRUZ: “I think there are a variety of views on a variety of issues. I think the existential threat to this country right now is our unsustainable debt.”

And the country’s debt and economic health, he said, is the main issue that ought to be of concern to young people.

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