Oct. 23--ARLINGTON -- U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz received a hero's welcome during a swing through Tarrant County on Tuesday as he continued to drum up support for his battle to end the country's new healthcare program.
Denounced by top leaders in his own party for what they called a "fool's errand" and by Democrats for bringing the economy close to collapse, a crowd of more than 1,000 at the Arlington Music Hall gave him a more than 12-minute standing ovation that included whistles, applause and chants of "Thank you, Ted," "Cruz" and "USA."
"If we are going to stop Obamacare, and I am convinced we are going to stop Obamacare, it is going to be because we continue to elevate the national debate and focus on how this thing ain't working," Texas' junior Republican senator and Tea Party favorite said.
"Having spent the last month in Washington, it's good to be back in America," he told the crowd. "The purpose of tonight ... is to say thank you to each and every one of you.
"Nobody thought taking on the Washington establishment would be easy," he said. "What we are trying to do together is change Washington and make D.C. listen."
Cruz drew national attention earlier this year after his more than 21-hour speech about why the nation's healthcare law needs to be defunded -- as well as for his efforts to link funding the government to not providing financial backing for the healthcare law.
He has said Republicans lost the government shutdown battle because his party didn't stand strong.
"The deal that came out was a lousy deal ... selling the American people down the river, providing no meaningful relief," he said Tuesday.
Cruz has drawn criticism from prominent members of his own party, such as U.S. Sen. John McCain, who said he was on a "fool's errand" when he led an effort to defund the healthcare law, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who said Cruz's moves were "not a smart play" and had "no chance of success."
U.S. Chamber of Commerce officials have suggested that Cruz might be well served by listening to others more; at least one online threat has been made toward Cruz.
But Cruz said the response he has received from Texans has been supportive.
"Throughout it all, the encouragement I have received from Texans all over our great state -- the prayers, the words of encouragement and support -- has been extraordinary," he said.
Many say Cruz's popularity has grown -- especially among Tea Party members, and particularly in Tarrant County, the largest urban Republican county in Texas. Tarrant County Republican voters last year turned out for Cruz, in the runoff election against Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, giving the political newcomer nearly 61 percent of the vote to Dewhurst's 39 percent.
The rally to welcome Cruz back to Texas, which drew a standing-room only crowd, was hosted by the Lone Star Tea Party and supported by other groups such as Fort Worth 912, Northeast Tarrant TEA Party, Parker County TEA Party and the Tarrant County Republican Party.
Cruz's father, Rafael, was among those at the rally and offered up a prayer.
"We thank you so much for the privilege of being Americans," he prayed, adding that "we are seeing freedoms eroded," and "none of us in this room are going to acquiesce."
"Give us the perseverance to restore liberty to America."
Hold GOP accountable
Cruz's appearance came a day after the Democratic National Committee launched an effort to hold Republicans accountable, called www.GOPPleaseStop.com.
The DNC has launched robocalls targeting Cruz and Republican U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Rand Paul of Kentucky to "stop their reckless brinkmanship."
"Republican leaders have expressed no regrets about shutting down the government and bringing the U.S. economy to the brink of collapse," according to a statement by the DNC. "On Wednesday night, Ted Cruz stated that holding the economy hostage should be " the model going forward," and on Sunday he said he would " do anything" to dismantle Obamacare."
"The DNC will continue to hold these Republican leaders accountable and amplify the sentiment of Americans across the country telling them to please stop the reckless brinkmanship."
Cruz also met with local business owners in Fort Worth Tuesday at a Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce small business roundtable discussion to find out what their biggest problems and challenges are. The event was closed to the media.
He said the top priority for Texans is jobs and economic growth, but "Obamacare is the biggest job killer in the country," he said.
And while the first fight to defund the Affordable Care Act failed, Cruz said he isn't through.
"There will be time [later] to talk about specific strategy and tactics," he said. "But the path to stopping harms from Obamacare ... is continuing to empower the American people."
He said he has launched a website -- www.makedclisten.org -- to try to help with the effort.
Brian Ganges, a 41-year-old Arlington man, was among the people who turned out to support Cruz.
"I wanted to unite with a group of people who think similarly in appreciating a voice in Washington that is standing up for us, that is being taken away from us," he said.
Nancy Crandall, a 55-year-old Plano woman, said she wouldn't have missed the event for the world.
"Ted is listening to the people. I like that," she said. "He's one of the few in Washington doing that. ... I want him to know we appreciate what he's doing for us."
Anna Tinsley, 817-390-7610 Twitter: @annatinsley
(c)2013 the Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Visit the Fort Worth Star-Telegram at www.star-telegram.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services
Original headline: U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz brings crusade to Tarrant County
Most Popular Stories
- NSA Defends Global Cellphone Tracking Legality
- Apple Wants Samsung to Pay $22M for Patent Dispute Legal Bills
- Shanghai Smog Forces Factory Shutdowns
- Apple Paid Its Lawyers More Than $60MM to Defeat Samsung in Court
- Economic Bright Spots Not a Sure Boost for President Obama
- Starbucks Gets Grinchy; No Gingerbread Lattes for Tampa Customers
- US Consumer Borrowing Rose $18.2B in Oct.
- 2014 World Cup Official Noisemakers Quieter than Vuvuzelas
- Networks Vie for U.S. Hispanic TV Viewers
- Ad Counts Rise in 2013 for Hispanic Magazines