Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, unloaded on President Obama Wednesday for the heightened state of race relations in America and said the situation in Baltimore was “heartbreaking.”
“Obama could have been a unifying force,” said Cruz, a 2016 presidential candidate. “He’s made decisions that inflamed racial tensions.”
Cruz spoke during a q&a session sponsored by the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce at the National Press Club that lasted for over an hour. He answered questions from Javier Palomarez, the chamber’s president and CEO.
Asked to elaborate afterward on the racial tensions by a member of the press, Cruz said of Obama, “he has not used his role as president to bring us together.”
Cruz hit on his campaign themes of restoring American leadership, growing the economy and repealing the nation’s health care law, the Affordable Care Act, which he usually calls Obamacare.
Cruz was asked by Palomarez about the Hispanic electorate and his plans to win their votes, which GOP standard-bearer Mitt Romney failed to do in 2012. The senator, who is Cuban American, said, “I think the Hispanic community is a fundamental conservative community.” He said the fundamentals of faith, family and hard work “are all conservative values.”
“The Obama economy has been a disaster for the Hispanic community,” he said. “I think the biggest lie in all politics is that the Republicans are the party of the rich.”
“How do you connect with the Hispanic community? Shared values,” said Cruz.
In Texas, Cruz said he won 40 percent of the Latino vote in the 2012 election while Romney got 27 percent. The problem was that Romney could not connect with people after the damage of his “47 percent” remarks, said Cruz. Romney said that that percentage of people who rely on government would never vote for him.
Pressed by Palomarez over the differences in the content of ads announcing his candidacy in Spanish and English, Cruz criticized the media and insisted that “I give the same speech in the Valley that I give anywhere else in Texas.” He was referring to the Rio Grande Valley that is almost completely Mexican American.
Palomarez said that Cruz’s ad in Spanish did not refer to his calls for repeal of Obamacare, a popular program among Latino households. Cruz countered that there was no doubt about where he stood on the health care law. “My messaging is going to be consistent,” he said.
On the economy, Cruz pushed some favorite themes: “2016 should be a referendum on abolishing the IRS and establishing the flat tax.”
Asked about immigration, Cruz focused on legal immigration but would not support a path to citizenship for the millions of immigrants in the U.S. illegally. Cruz has been outspoken against Obama’s use of executive actions to defer deportations of Dreamers and their parents.
He said the number one issue for Latinos is not immigration but jobs and the economy.
As for this week’s hot button issue of gay marriage – which was argued before the Supreme Court Tuesday – Cruz said, “I support traditional marriage, a union between one man and one woman.” Cruz, a lawyer, added that he is also a big believer in the Constitution and that the decision should me made by each state.
“It is a matter for the states,” he said.
Cruz emphasized that he is supporting religious tolerance for those who believe their faith does not let them support gay marriage.