Sen. Ted Cruz, R-TX, returned home to a heroes welcome on Monday, pledging to a crowd of excited supporters that he would continue his crusade against President Barack Obama's health care law despite criticism from some members of his own party.
The Texas firebrand began his remarks at a tea party rally in Houston by jokingly acknowledging the ire some fellow Republicans have directed at him after helping to orchestrate a government shutdown that resulted in a sharp drop in the GOP's approval ratings.
Cruz told a story about how one of his young daughters dismissed the prospects of growing up to work in the Senate with her father because "by then daddy will be dead."
"I kind of wondered if [my daughter] had been talking with Republican leadership in Washington, if she knew something I didn't know," Cruz said.
Despite some moderate members of Cruz's party questioning his decision to help lead a 16-day government shutdown that resulted in Republicans getting none of their demands, the freshman senator has been heralded by conservative activists for his efforts to defund Obamacare and not cave to outside pressures.
Acknowledging the public and private rebukes by some of his colleagues, Cruz simply said, "Who cares?"
Cruz received an 8-minute standing ovation before a speech in San Antonio, Texas on Saturday. His speech in Houston on Monday drew a lengthy applause as well before he praised grass roots efforts as the most important way the put pressure on lawmakers in Washington.
"You all melted down the phone lines on Capitol Hill and scared the living daylights out of Washington," he said.
In the end, the GOP made a "lousy deal" because Senate Republicans failed to stand united with their colleagues in the House, he said.
Even though polling shows the battle did tremendous damage to the GOP brand, Cruz pledged to continue the fight against Obamacare. He said the effort, while not successful, more highly elevated the problems with the president's health care law on the national level, including issues with the website to enroll.
"Have you all noticed the Nigerian email scammers? They have been a lot less active lately because they have all been hired to run the Obamacare website," he said.
And despite recent Republican troubles, the senator said conservatives have won on issues like immigration, guns, preventing military strikes on Syria, and domestic drone use. Winning four out of five of the year's biggest legislative battles "is a better average than Ty Cobb had," Cruz said.
"And we slide with our spikes up too," he added.
First published October 21 2013, 7:01 PM