ORLANDO, Fla. - Sen. Ted Cruz says the GOP is the party of the working class and vows that former President Donald Trump will remain a power player in the Republican Party.
Cruz, the conservative two-term senator from Texas and former and likely future Republican presidential candidate, used his speech Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Fla., to paint a populist portrait of a GOP transformed during Trump’s four years in the White House.
"The Republican Party is not the party just of the country clubs. The Republican Party is the party of steelworkers and construction workers and pipeline workers and taxi cab drivers and cops and firefighters, and waiters and waitresses and the men and women with callouses on their hands who are working for this country. That is our party and these deplorables are here to stay," Cruz said to loud cheers.
And Cruz, who repeatedly traded fire with Trump during their acrimonious battle for the 2016 GOP presidential campaign but who turned into one the president’s biggest allies in Congress during the Trump administration, charged that Democrats "want him to go away."
"Let me tell you this right now: Donald J. Trump ain’t goin’ anywhere," Cruz said to a standing ovation.
Cruz also predicted success for the GOP as it tries to win back the House and Senate majorities in the 2022 midterm elections and recapture the White House in 2024.
"There is a natural pendulum and the country will come back to sanity, and mark my words, 2022 going to be a fantastic election year and so is 2024," Cruz stressed.
Cruz is one of nearly a dozen potential 2024 Republican White House hopefuls speaking at the conference, known by its acronym CPAC. He quipped at the top of his speech "what an amazing array of speakers here at CPAC. For a second there I thought we were in Des Moines."
Des Moines is the capital and largest city in Iowa, the state that for a half-century has kicked off the presidential nominating calendar.
Cruz also made light of his controversial brief trip with his family to Cancun, Mexico, earlier this month as his home state of Texas was pounded by a deadly winter storm that sparked a severe power and water crisis.
Cruz, who’s acknowledged that his trip to Mexico was a mistake, joked at the top of his speech that "Orlando is awesome. It’s not as nice as Cancun, but it’s nice."
CPAC, the largest annual gathering of conservative activists and leaders, is being held this year in Orlando as coronavirus pandemic restrictions forced organizers to move the half-century-old conference from the Washington, D.C., area.