Ted Cruz fired away at his political enemies, both elected and hypothetical, in a pair of New Hampshire appearances Tuesday. At a “Second Amendment rally” in Hudson and a town hall in Londonderry Cruz spoke harshly about Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton while reverently characterizing gun rights as foundational to America’s continued existence.
“The real reason for the Second Amendment to our Constitution is to make sure that the People have the arms and the wherewithal to defeat an ever-encroaching tyrannical government.” Those are the words of one of Cruz’s introductory speakers and it succinctly captures the Cruz view of gun rights and the state of the Republic. Hunting and even self-protection against criminals are important, but the Second Amendment and the unfettered right to own and use guns is most vitally a “check on tyranny” said Cruz. It’s a centerpiece of Cruz’s worldview, revolving around the notion that a tyrannical, or at least aspiring-to-be tyrannical, government is actively working to encroach its citizens’ liberty in a multitude of ways.
Support for the unfettered right to own and use guns is universal among Republic presidential candidates, but Cruz is among the most aggressive in both tone and tying those rights to fighting a tyrannical American government.
Cruz has a decidedly populist approach, though, attacking the wealthy in ways unimaginable for most Republican candidates. “If you’re a New York billionaire the economy’s doing fabulous” spat out Cruz, “because the top 1%, the richest, have gotten richer under Barack Obama.” For most Republican candidates and audiences increasing wealth at the top is a positive, but not for Cruz. He adopts many traditional Republican ideas and positions but differs fundamentally from many with his attacks on income inequality and his disdain for Republicans in Congress. He shares the latter view with Donald Trump, and that shared element is at the center of their battle. Both tap into frustration that Congressional Republicans have not produced the radical changes promised by many of them, but they differ in their economic appeal. Trump deeply, essentially, holds the view that wealth is good in its own right and that increasing wealth at the top will produce benefits for the rest. Cruz goes right to the frustration of working class voters who feel left behind in a changing economy by attacking the accumulation of wealth by the most affluent.
Cruz’s midday Second Amendment rally drew a solid audience of 200-250 people. His evening town hall drew a strikingly large audience of about 1,000, second in size only to Trump audiences in my modest New Hampshire experience. Both audiences appeared quite engaged and supportive.
Video – Here is full video of Cruz at his rally and town hall:
Hudson Second Amendment Rally:
Londonderry Town Hall: