Ted Cruz, Texas' Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, drew roaring applause Tuesday night from the Texas delegates before he discussed his Hispanic heritage and slammed the president during a speech at the Republican National Convention.
Long-serving Texas politicians -- even one that ran for president -- won't have speaking roles at the Republican National Convention. Cruz, who was largely unknown until tea party support and money propelled him to victory over well-known and self-funded Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, was the only Texan chosen to take the stage during the national convention.
In his speech -- which was peppered with the Republican must-says, "liberty" and "freedom," -- Cruz paced the stage and spoke without notes or a lectern.
Cruz smiled when he earned applause, as he slammed President Barack Obama for taking America down the wrong path.
"This election presents a stark choice. Two visions: we can continue down the road of the Obama Democrats, towards more and more spending, debt and government control of the economy and our lives. Or we can return to the founding principles of our nation -- free markets, fiscal responsibility, and individual liberty," Cruz said.
"Unfortunately, President Obama's campaign is going to try to divide America. They're going to try to separate us into little groups, and try to scare everybody. They're going to tell seniors that Medicare will be taken away, tell Hispanics that we're not welcome here and send the vice president to preach a message of division."
Cal Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University, said it was unfortunate for Cruz that major cable channels conducted interviews during his speech and the networks didn't cover it.
"Ted Cruz gave an impressive and stirring speech, distinctive in that he alone of the dozen speakers that preceded him spoke from the middle of the stage without notes or a teleprompter," Jillson said.
Jeff Milburn, 46, from Dallas, said from the convention floor that he was impressed with Cruz's speech.
"You can tell he knows a lot about the Constitution," he said. "The question is: Is he going to walk the walk?"
In his speech, Cruz, a college debater and former assistant state attorney general who has argued cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, echoed much of what he said on the campaign trail.
"To restore America, to get Americans back to work, we must rein in the leviathan," he said. "We must stop spending money we don't have and turn around our crushing debt."
The son of a Cuban immigrant, Cruz was one of a few Latinos to take the stage during the convention.
In his speech, Cruz juxtaposed a story about his father's journey from torture in his birth county to a business owner with a statistic showing Hispanic unemployment at more than 10 percent.
Iggy Sanchez, a delegate from Potomoc, Md., listened closely to Cruz's speech.
"I think he's a superstar. He's got a compelling story," Sanchez said from the convention floor immediately after the speech.
Sanchez added that he thought Cruz could bring more Latinos into the party.
But not everyone in the Texas Latino community sees Cruz as a Hispanic role model.
One Texas, a Latino political action committee founded in part by state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio, released a video Tuesday that hit Cruz for not being a friend of Latinos for his positions on Medicare and Medicaid, Social Security and immigration.
"We want leaders who will make hard decisions and smart investments in our future," the ad said. "Clearly, you're not that leader."
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