Ted Cruz said on Wednesday that since he joined the Senate in 2013 he was been waging his own war against the cartels.
No, the Republican presidential candidate is not fighting the Mexican drug organizations operating across the border from his home state of Texas, but instead the one he says is making moves inside the D.C. Beltway. And that, he said, makes him ideally suited to take the White House come 2016.
"If you’ve never taken on the ‘Washington cartel,’ you’re not going to magically start once you take office," Cruz told a group gathered at the conservative Heritage Foundation, according to the Dallas Morning News.
Cruz has consistently picked fights with members of the Senate – both Democrat and Republican – since joining its ranks and has often buddied up with House conservatives, urging them to defy House leaders and earning him the derisive nickname "Speaker Cruz."
Most recently, Cruz accused House Speaker John A. Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of agreeing to vote on renewing the Export-Import Bank if pro-trade Democrats would vote for trade promotion authority, or TPA.
"Too calculating to be puckish, but maybe too mischievous to actually be effective, Cruz has made a name for himself by challenging GOP leadership in both chambers," Matt Fuller and Matthew Fleming wrote for Roll Call. "While his actual legislative achievements have been few, he’s shown an ability to rack up political wins, to score points against both sides, Democrats and Republicans."
During his talk at the Heritage Foundation, Cruz rejected the disparagement – from both parties – that he is self-centered and selfish, as he also railed against lobbyists and career politicians.
"If I’m selfish, then I must be a blithering idiot. Because who selfishly would welcome the derision, the abuse, your fundraising shut off from this town, nasty press stories written one after the other after the other, all planted by Republicans?" Cruz said.
He added: "You know what the selfish thing to do is? Come here and smile. Give an empty speech, bloviate occasionally at a think tank. Vote with the crowd. Don’t rock the boat. You go to the parties, lobbyists write you checks. It is not hard to coast and stay in office forever."
The speech at the Heritage Foundation came a day before the outspoken Texan called the Supreme Court’s decision to allow health care subsidies a move that would harm millions of Americans.
"I have made repeal of this disastrous law a top priority since the first day I arrived in the Senate and have made its repeal central to my campaign," Cruz said in a press release. "Any candidate not willing to do the same—and campaign on it every day—should step aside."