Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)
Keynote Address
2013 Conservative Political Action Conference
March 16, 2013

Thank you so very, very much.  It is great to be in a room full of patriots.  We're here in Washington at a momentous time, and I mean of course the sequester.  In honor of the sequester for each of you who went to dinner last night your meals were reduced by 2.4 percent.  And I can tell you I can see the looks of hunger and famine in your eyes; indeed I don't know how you're possibly able to still stand on 97.6 percent of your dinner.  And I'll always be haunted by the sight of Newt Gingrich's emaciated face.  It's like Anne Hathaway in Les Miserables.

Other than sequestration, not much is happening in Washington.  It's been pretty quiet.  We did have a certain eminence gris of the Republican party describe Rand Paul and me as wacko birds.  I have to admit when Rand and I first heard that we thought that was a new kind of drone, but if standing for liberty and standing for the Constitution makes you a wacko bird then count me a proud wacko bird.  And I think there are more than a few other wacko birds gathered here today.

You know I'm going to tell you the biggest surprise since coming to Washington.  People ask what surprised you when you got there.  The biggest surprise has been frankly the defeatist attitude among so many Republicans who have been in Washington a long time.  I cannot tell you how many times people have wanted to pat me on the head and say well that's very nice, you can vote no and then we'll just lose.  It is utterly maddening. 

So I'm going to tell you a dirty little secret that somehow the mainstream media won't pass on to you.  For the last three weeks conservatives have been winning. 

And we're winning because of you.  Let me give three specific examples in the last three weeks. 

A couple of weeks ago I was honored to join my friend Rand Paul as he stood for thirteen hours on the floor of the Senate.  Now when Rand started at 11:47 in the morning there were more than a few Senators, Republican Senators, who viewed what he was doing as odd and even quixotic.  And he stood there alone and said we are going to stand for liberty, we're going to stand for the Constitution, we are going to stand until this administration acknowledges limits on its power. 

Earlier that day Attorney General Eric Holder testified at a Judiciary Committee hearing.  And I asked him straight up the question.  In your judgment is it constitutional for the United States government to kill a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil if that individual doesn't pose an imminent threat?  His answer was he said well, it wouldn't be appropriate.  And my response was General Holder, I'm not asking for your views on propriety.  You are the chief legal advisor for the United States of America.  What is your view, does the Department of Justice have a view on whether the Constitution allows our government to kill U.S. citizens on U.S. soil.  Three times he responded, it wouldn't be appropriate.  It was almost as if he didn't understand the question.  And you know maybe that says something about how the left views constitutionality.  In their mind appropriate and constitutional are one and the same.  And so his answer, I mean he really expressed frustration.  I told you we're not going to do it.  Don't you trust me?  And the answer is exactly that.  No, we don't trust you.  And we don't trust the next guy or the next guy or the next guy whether he's Democrat or Republican.

James Madison observed in the Federalist Papers if men were angels no government would be necessary.  Well there are not a whole lot of angels in Washington.  And Thomas Jefferson explained the entire purpose of the Constitution is to serve as chains to bind the mischief of government.

When Rand stood there alone something incredible began to happen.  First he received support.  Mike Lee and I came early on to support him.  Then another Senator.  Then another Senator.  Then another Senator.  As the night drew on we saw one after another after another.  We saw 20 House members show up on the floor of the Senate.  I didn't know they knew where the Senate floor was. 

And something so powerful happened which is each of you engaged.  It captivated the country as the American people looked at suddenly elected leaders doing something we hadn't seen in a long time.  Standing for principle.  Now that was actually, the filibuster was the first time in my life that I've ever spoken on the floor of the Senate.  And so to my grave I will owe Rand Paul a debt of gratitude that the first time I spoke in the Senate I had the opportunity to read Travis' letter from the Alamo.  And it so happened that the day of the filibuster was the 177th anniversary of the fall of the Alamo.  So I observed to Rand, who I will note is a native-born Texan, I observed to Rand that if the heroes of the Alamo, if William Barret Travis, and Davey Crockett and Jim Bowie were alive today they would have been standing shoulder to shoulder with him on the floor of the Senate. 

I got to read from Shakespeare's St. Crispin's Day speech, and there were more than a few Senators who were not there with us that night that have held their manhoods a-cheapened as a result.  I got to read the opening monologue from the great movie Patton," cleaned up a little bit to make it suitable for television.  And I got to read President Ronald Reagan's 1964 "A Time for Choosing" speech.  As they say in the beer commercial, it don't get no better than this.

But a second example is sequestration.  Sequestration has actually gone into effect.  The White House is astonished.  All of us remember the President's scare-America tour, where he went all over the country talking about the dramatic consequences--  You know Washington, DC is the only place on Earth where the phrase draconian 2-percent cuts can be uttered.  And you know after a while I think the President was self-parodying as he described the consequences of a 2-percent cut in a 3 1/2 trillion federal budget.  It reminded me-- You remember the scene from "Ghostbusters" when Bill Murray is talking about the end of the world, cats and dogs living together.  You know I halfway expected to see the Stay-Puff marshmallow ?mans? come walking out.  But the White House was certain Republicans were going to fold under and cave and instead we stood our ground and finally got at least the first small step--and I underscore it is a small step--to reining in our uncontrollable spending and debt. 

And a third example.  Last week we voted on an amendment that I authored to repeal funding for Obamacare.  Now I'll confess a couple of weeks ago when I said initially I was going to offer this amendment more than a few of my colleagues were not thrilled.  And yet we saw every single Republican in the Senate vote unanimously to de-fund Obamacare.  And the Democrats all stood together and voted to keep imposing the economic costs, the harms as people are losing their insurance, as employees are being forced to reduce their hours, as insurance premiums are skyrocketing on young people, every Democrat voted together to maintain Obamacare funding even if it pushes us into a recession.  [Audience interjection]  That's exactly right.

But something that hasn't happened in a long time has happened.  We're winning right now.  So what I want to address with you this evening at the end of this fantastic conference, and boy I do sure hope one of these days Ann Coulter will learn to speak her mind.  If we could get her to come out of that shell I just have a feeling she'd have some powerful things to say.  But what I want to talk about today is the question how do we keep winning.  And I'm going to suggest two very simple steps. 

Number one, defend the Constitution.  And number two, champion growth and opportunity. 

*  *  *

Defend the Constitution.  Liberty is under assault from every direction.  Some of y'all may have noticed the 2nd Amendment is in President Obama and the Senate Democrats' crosshairs right now.  But we all did receive helpful advice from Joe Biden.  That if you have any threats at home, just go outside with a double-barreled shot gun and fire in the air.  Which is very, very useful if you're being attacked by a flock of geese or for that matter a drone.  So maybe Joe Biden stumbled onto something after all.

But you know this past week we had a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee where a senior Democrat explained to me that questions about the Constitution have no role in the U.S. Senate.  Because, she explained, it's Congress' job to pass laws and then the Supreme Court interprets them and they can decide whether to throw them out or not.  And you know what?  That statement is exactly the problem.  That statement is reminiscient of Nancy Pelosi when she was asked what's the constitutional basis for Obamacare and her answer was, are you serious?  Are you serious?  Look there are a whole lot of politicians--sadly Democrats and Republicans in Washington--who haven't looked at the Constitution in a long, long time.  And let me answer Speaker Pelosi.  Yes, we're serious.

The 2nd Amendment provides that the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.  Now what part of shall not be infringed do they not understand.

But it doesn't just end with the 2nd Amendment.  The 1st Amendment is a big target in Congress.  Set aside their love for regulating campaign speech because it seems every campaign elected official hates, hates, hates when the people dare criticize them.  You know tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day.  My Irish mother recently reminded me that it is more than a little ironic that the national party that was the first national party to nominate the first two major party candidates to be president is today fighting a war on religious liberty.  And it shows just how far we've gone to ask what would a John F. Kennedy or an Al Smith say to a Democrat party that says to the Catholic Church, change your religious beliefs or we'll use our power in the federal government to shut down your charities and your hospitals.  There was a time when standing for religious liberty enjoyed bipartisan support.  We need to get back to that time.

There's the 5th Amendment which provides that none of us shall be denied life without due process of law, which somehow a drone from a sky hitting you in a cafe ain't my defiinition of due process of law.

There's the 4th Amendment that protects us from unreasonable searches and seizures.  And I'll tell you right now, we need to repeal the NDAA because the federal government does not have the authority to indefinitely detain a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil without due process of law. 

There's the 10th Amendment, something our omnipotent federal government seems to have forgotten all about.  The 10th Amendment provides that the powers not given to the federal government are reserved to the states and to the people.  How did we get a $16.5 trillion national debt?  We have a federal government that thinks they have the authority to regulate our toilet seats and our light bulbs.  We need to get back to the Constitution.

And Article 6 of the Constitution provides that the Constitution shall be the supreme law of the land.  There is an ongoing effort to undermine United States sovereignty.  And I'll tell you before I was in the Senate, I was the Soliciter General of Texas.  We stood up to the World Court and to the United Nations.  And we stood up to the President of the United States, who happened to be a Republican, and I went before the Supreme Court of the United States and I said no president, Republican or Democrat, has the constitutional authority to give away U.S. sovereignty.

Now we've seen Republicans willing to stand up to Republican presidents.  My question to you is where were the Democrats when Rand and the rest of us were standing on the floor on drones?

*  *  *

But the second thing we need to do is we need to champion growth and opportunity.  People are hurting right now.  We are in the midst of what I call the great stagnation.  President Obama is one of only two presidents post-World War II to face double-digit unemployment.  And for the last four years economic growth under President Barack Obama has averaged 0.8-percent.  Less than 1-percent.  There is only one other period post-1950 where we've had four years of less than 1-percent economic growth.  That's from 1979 to 1983.  Coming out of Jimmy Carter following the same policies of out of control spending, out of control debt, out of control taxes, out of control regulation.  That's the only other period.  President Reagan came in facing that stagnation and he implemented policies the exact opposite that of Barack Obama's.  In fact it's interesting '79 to '83 economic growth was 0.8-percent.  Today it's 0.8-percent for the exact same period.  Because Obama didn't learn the lesson from Reagan that if you want to turn the economy around you cut taxes, you reduce spending, you reduce the debt and you don't send regulators like locusts to destroy small businesses and jobs.

Do you know if President Obama had followed the Reagan policies and we had seen the identical growth that President Reagan saw inheriting the same lousy economy Barack Obama did, do you know that today we would have seven million additional new jobs in America?  Let me help make that a little more concrete.  Seven million new jobs is the equivalent of giving a job to every man, woman and child in Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia and Boston.  That's what we're talking about.

And the stagnation under President Obama doesn't fall uniformly.  Listen if you so happen to be a tax lawyer or an environmental lawyer, you're doing great right now.  But I'll tell you the people who are hurting the most are those who are struggling and the least well off amongst us.  Under President Obama Hispanic unemployment climbed to 10-percent, African-American unemployment to 14-percent, unemployment for young people age 16 to 19 over 25-percent.  That's why for a long time I've been championing what I call opportunity conservatism, which is that every Republican, every conservative should focus every policy on easing the means of ascent up the economic ladder.  Explaining how our free market system has served as the most incredible engine for opportunity for millions of people from all over the world to come with nothing and acheive anything.

The policies of Barack Obama do not work, and the people that are hurting the most are young people, are African-Americans, are Hispanics, are single moms, are those who are finding their opportunity shut off to reach the American Dream.

So we need to champion growth, growth at every stage to get the economy booming. 

We need to repeal Obamacare. 

We need to repeal Dodd-Frank.  Talk about a bill, you don't have to read any further than the title. 

We need to eliminate corporate welfare. 

We need to build the Keystone pipeline. 

We need to rein in the EPA.  You know in west Texas the EPA is trying to use a lizard to shut down oil and gas production.  You know my view of lizards?  They make dern fine boots. 

We need to audit the Fed.  And we need to stop QE infinity. 

We need to abolish the Department of Education.  Education is too important for it to be governed by bureaucrats in Washington taking choices away from parents and kids.  And we need to champion school choice, the civil rights issue of the next generation.  And I'd like to see more Democrats going and explaining to young kids trapped in failing schools --young Hispanics, young African-Americans--why they're willing to consign another generation to not having a fair and equal shot at the American Dream.

We need to stand with Israel.

But we need to stop sending foreign aid to nations that hate us.  Just two weeks ago President Obama cancelled White House tours and sent $250 million to Egypt with no conditions, no strings attached, nothing focused on U.S. national security--simply wrote a check.

We need to get back to growth and opportunity.

*  *  *

Now listen, spreading the message that our policies work, their policies don't, that government control hurts those struggling to achieve the American Dream.  I can promise you something.  ABC, NBC, CBS, the New York Times, none of them are going to help spread that message.  But we have something more powerful.  We have each and every one of you.  The world has changed.  There are no longer gatekeepers that can decide what the American people get to hear and what they don't get to hear. 

So I'm here today asking for each and every one of your help telling the story.  How many of you have a cell phone on you right now?  I'm going to ask you to take out your cell phone and text the word "growth" to the number 33733.  Once again that's the word growth to 33733.  When you do that you will be joining us in helping spread the word, helping spread the word that freedom works, that free market policies work, that the greatest avenue for improving the condition of those struggling to achieve the American Dream is limiting government and unleashing small businesses and entrepreneurs.  And in fact I would ask every one of you when you get home to go to the website  Go online.  We are developing a positive pro-growth economic agenda that can be a contract with America for conservatives going forward to get our economy going and to spread opportunity.
And I ask for your input, your help developing concrete pro-growth policies to bring Americans together and to get our economy back.

You know ten weeks ago I arrived in Washington, DC to be sworn into office.  When I stood on the floor of the Senate with my hand on the family Bible, I couldn't help but think back to 1957.  1957 my father came from Cuba.  He had been imprisoned, he had been tortured in Cuba, and he came to Texas with nothing--with $100 in his underwear, didn't speak a word of English.  Washed dishes making 50 cents an hour.  As I was standing on the Senate floor I couldn't help but think if someone had come up to that 18-year old kid as he was washing dishes and suggested to him that 55 years hence his son would be sworn into office as a United States Senator representing the great state of Texas, that would have been unimaginable.  That would have been beyond anything he could possibly have conceived.  And yet there was my father sitting in the gallery looking down as I took the oath of office.

My dad is here today.  I'd like him to stand up.  I love you dad. 

In our family that was a powerful, powerful moment.  But you know that's just one small example of the incredible freedom and opportunity that this country provides.  The history of the world there has been no nation on Earth that has lifted so many people with nothing to prosperity.  That is the legacy we are fighting for.  Because every one of us is here because we want to make sure that our kids and grandkids have the same prosperity, the same opportunity, the same liberty that we have been blessed to enjoy.  We're here because we're not willing to give up on America. 

We are facing a fundamental choice, a choice that cuts across all issues.  It is a choice between surrendering or standing up now to defend our liberty. 

On guns, do we surrender or do we stand up now?

On drones, do we surrender or do we stand up now?

On spending, do we surrender or do we stand up now?

On debt, do we surrender or do we stand up now?

And on the Constitution, do we surrender or do we stand up now?

That, my dear friends, is change we can believe in.

Thank you and God bless you.