Sen. Ted Cruz finished off the third leg of his whirlwind Thursday in Oklahoma with a very up-and-down crowd at Union’s Performing Arts Center.
He arrived a little late, following trips to Oklahoma City and Bartlesville earlier in the day, but still, thousands sat — so many that “This is Cruz County” organizers had to turn some away due to building fire codes.
And when the Texas senator said he wanted to defund and have the Department of Justice investigate Planned Parenthood, they rose.
Then went back to their seats.
Cruz then said he wanted to repeal “every word of Obamacare.”
Back up again.
Hillary Clinton jokes — The Democratic debate was pushed back because the invite was lost in her email, he said — standing applause.
Shots at presumptive republican frontrunner Jeb Bush (who got louder boos than Obama)? They roared.
Combination IRS and border security joke — “Put a padlock on the IRS building,” Cruz said. “And line the 90,000 employees up at the border … you’d run too — Huge applause.
Ways to implement some of the plans he said he won’t back down from? Maybe at the next rally.
In that way, Cruz’s lines didn’t seem to stand out from the other nearly two-dozen republican candidates. The party has generated much interest as its field of contestants has widened, but the criticism has always been that they’re long on ideas, but short on implementation.
And Cruz’s ideas were plentiful. “Rip to shreds” the nuclear deal with Iran, move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, end the IRS and DOJ persecution of Christians, implement a flat tax, and repeal all “illegal executive actions.”
“And that’s just the first day,” he joked.
One thing was clear, Cruz’s message resonated with the more than 2,000 in attendance.
Oklahoma voters in 2012 sided narrowly with Rick Santorum over Mitt Romney, and Cruz hoped on Thursday to continue that momentum, saying that “every time we nominate a democrat-lite, we lose.”
Once, when mentioning the “partisan DOJ,” a woman yelled out “And they’re racist!”
Cruz said he would continue to fight for Second Amendment rights, and when he asked what the crowd thought the government would come for when “assault rifles were banned,” they yelled in unison, “handguns!”
The only thing the crowd pushed back against was when Cruz pointed out the similarities between Oklahomans and his native Texans.
“Boomer!” one yelled.
“Sooner!” thousands replied.