Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz landed in New Hampshire Tuesday fresh from his victory in the Iowa caucuses. Cruz spoke to a modest sized audience of about 150 people at a church in Windham, New Hampshire, but was also joined by nearly as many members of the press.
Although undoubtedly a strong candidate in New Hampshire, Cruz faces a different landscape than that of Iowa. With a less significant portion of the electorate identifying as “evangelical”, there’s a diminished presence of a meaningful element of Cruz’s base. His fierce rhetoric on guns, prayer and Barack Obama finds a receptive audience, however, and he’s drawn substantial audiences in his recent New Hampshire appearances. At this town hall the audience was supportive yet not overly vocal or demonstrative.
“God bless the great state of New Hampshire” began Cruz, declaring that the election will not be “decided by the media, lobbyists or the
“Washington Cartel”, a favored Cruz enemy. It fits neatly into Cruz’s painting this election as 1979 redux, with Cruz as the new Ronald Reagan. In Cruz’s telling, the last time “we broke the Washington Cartel” was in Reagan’s 1980 victory.
Declaring that “we want our country back” Cruz offered now-familiar promises. Actions on “Day One” will include rescinding Obama “illegal and unconstitutional” executive actions, instructing the Department of Justice to investigate Planned Parenthood, instructing the IRS that “persecution of religious liberty ends today”, “rip[ping] to shreds the catastrophic Iranian deal” and beginning the process of moving the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Promises for early in a Cruz administration include repealing Obamacare, ending Common Core, rebuilding the military, “utterly and completely destroy[ing] ISIS”, “tak[ing] on” the EPA and the CFPB, instituting a flat tax and enabling the filing of income tax returns “on a postcard” and abolishing the IRS.
The five questions posed by the audience appeared more inquisitive and less flat-out statements of support. Topics included whether he would, like Ronald Reagan, negotiate with Russia to reduce nuclear arsenals, to clarify his 2013 actions on amnesty for illegal immigrants, whether Trump’s mocking of a particular reporter’s physical disabilities is appropriate for a presidential candidate and whether he stands by his prior statement that net neutrality is “Obamacare for the internet.” One question captured some of the cross-currents that Cruz would face as president. A man who described himself as “a former small businessman” prefaced his question by commending Cruz for promising to eliminate “repressive regulations.” In his question, however, he urged Cruz to continue the protections of the Americans With Disabilities Act. The Act, which has had a substantial beneficial effect for many Americans, is in many ways a paradigm of strong government regulation imposing costly requirements on businesses. It’s a small example, but repealing or substantially weakening this government regulation that meaningful benefits many will not be wholeheartedly embraced and will be more challenging for Cruz as he moves from a campaign town hall to engaging Congress.
Video – Here is Cruz’s full appearance: