OXON HILL, Md. (AP) — Republicans must not let themselves be tricked into picking a moderate presidential nominee in 2016, by demanding their hopefuls have a demonstrated commitment to conservatism, Sen. Ted Cruz told an enthusiastic audience Thursday.
Cruz, himself a likely presidential candidate, warned activists gathered at the Conservative Political Action Conference near Washington that voters who pick the GOP nominee are likely to hear a similar pitch: "You betcha. Who-diddley. I'm as conservative as all get out." But, without naming names, he suggested that many of those likely candidates lacked the record to back it up.
Cruz offered his record of standing in opposition to President Barack Obama's efforts on health care, immigration and foreign policy — as well as his own party's leadership in the Senate at times.
"If a candidate tells you that they oppose Obamacare — fantastic! When have you stood up and fought against it?" he asked of his potential rivals, many of them slated to address the audience.
"Actions speak far, far louder than words. We need to look to people who walk the walk," he added.
Cruz also used his turn before a packed room of conservative activists to jab at the Democratic favorite possible presidential contender Hillary Rodham Clinton and the fees she collects for speeches: "We could have had Hillary here. But we couldn't find a foreign nation to foot the bill."
He also took a swipe at her husband, former President Bill Clinton, and his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Asked by Fox News' Sean Hannity for the first thing that came to mind when he heard Bill Clinton's name, Cruz replied, "Youth outreach."