DES MOINES, Iowa – Texas Sen. Ted Cruz argued to influential Iowa Republicans on Friday that the partial government shutdown he helped precipitate this month was a success despite a compromise that reopened the government and ultimately funded the health care law he has made his name fighting.
His reason: It got people talking.
“One of the things we accomplished in the fight over Obamacare is we elevated the national debate over what a disaster, what a train wreck, how much Obamacare is hurting millions of Americans across this country,” Cruz told about 600 Iowa Republicans at the state GOP’s annual fundraising dinner in Des Moines.
Immediately before Cruz spoke, five-term Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad barely acknowledged the guest and said the way forward for the party nationally was by way of the route cleared by Republican governors.
Branstad, 66, at the heart of Iowa’s GOP establishment, called Cruz “a bright, up-and-coming senator” before turning his attention to the tangible successes of Republican governors, beginning with Cruz’s own governor, Rick Perry of Texas.
“The results of conservative governors are making a difference,” said Branstad, who is preparing to seek re-election next year. “The results of conservative leadership in the departments make a difference. Compare the results in state after state.”
Meanwhile, Cruz argued during his 40-minute speech that the health care law enacted in 2010 was the main impediment to economic growth.
Cruz was vague after the speech about whether he would continue to try to defund the law in the future.
“There will be plenty of time the coming months to talk about specific tactics and strategies,” he told reporters later. “What I think is critical is we keep the focus on Obamacare, we keep the focus on the fact that this bill isn’t working.”
It was Cruz’s third visit to Iowa, which is expected to hold the leadoff GOP nominating caucuses ahead of the 2016 presidential election. He has not ruled out seeking the GOP nomination for president in 2016.