The best comedian on the Las Vegas Strip on Shabbos morning was Texas senator Ted Cruz.
The first-term senator who was the first Republican to declare his campaign for the presidency in 2016 received a warm reception from nearly 800 attendees at the spring meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) at the Venetian Hotel.
He gave a speech packed with jokes, one-liners and even a Jay Leno impersonation as he sought to sell a rather establishment audience on his viability as a candidate.
The Texas senator emphasized his steadfastness on key issues. “It isn’t complicated to come to the RJC and say you stand with Israel,” he said. “Unless you’re a blithering idiot, that’s what you say when you come to the RJC.”
He then tried to differentiate himself from the competition by talking about his personal ties with Israel and his record in the Senate.
Cruz has long been known in Washington as a partisan firebrand, but he boasted about his bipartisan record on pro-Israel legislation. He mentioned his work with a New York Democrat, Kirsten Gillibrand, and praised the former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, a figure despised by many conservatives for his support of gun control, for pointedly flying to Israel in 2014, when the FAA briefly put a restriction on US airlines doing so after a Hamas rocket landed near Ben Gurion airport.
Cruz also said he would do “everything humanly possible” to stop the Obama administration’s deal with Iran over its nuclear ambitions.
Yet he spent far more time highlighting his fundraising prowess and the success of his campaign so far. Cruz noted, for example, that the super PAC supporting him raised $31m in one week. As he told attendees, that is “more money than any other super PAC has raised in the opening week [of a campaign] in the history of politics.”
He added that he was attracting crowds on visits to early primary states that were “standing room only”. In Cruz’s telling, his crowds were “larger than those for any other candidate and double of the size of most of the other candidates.’
“There’s going to be no candidate who works harder than me over the next two years,” Cruz said before pledging that both and he and his wife, Heidi, would “work 16 hours a day, six days a week” to win election to the White House in 2016.
The Texas senator also tried to rebut concerns that his experience as a first-term senator made him little different from Barack Obama when he ran for the presidency in 2008. He proclaimed – to a loud and standing ovation – that Obama was “not a lousy president because he was a senator.
“He’s a lousy president because he is a radical ideologue and a zealot and the ideas he believes have been profoundly dangerous to the United States and to the world.”
Read more at The Guardian.