By Dave Sherwood
BARRINGTON, N.H. (Reuters) - Senator Ted Cruz, the conservative Texas Republican considering a run for the presidency, lashed out at President Barack Obama during a visit to New Hampshire on Sunday, saying his administration had repeatedly trampled on the Constitution.
Cruz, who is exploring a run for the White House in 2016, struck a defiantly aggressive tone during a speech in the first state to hold a presidential primary election, slamming Obama on his handling of immigration, negotiations with Iran and his signature health care reforms.The freshman senator from Texas was one of four Republican presidential hopefuls who paid weekend visits to New Hampshire, which has tended to favor moderates in recent years. The flurry of activity marks the opening salvo in a primary race that still lacks a clear front-runner.
“We’ve got to get back to defending our Constitutional liberties," Cruz said in a luncheon speech in Barrington, about 30 miles northeast of Manchester. "We’ve never seen a federal government come after the Bill of Rights like this administration."
Cruz coyly resisted calls from an audience eager for him to announce his candidacy, including the pleas of one supporter who opened his wallet and offered a blank check to the freshman Senator from Texas.
Instead Cruz sketched the outlines of a fledgling platform, calling for a flat tax so that every American can “fill out his or her taxes on a postcard.”
He railed against limits on campaign spending, saying it would be better to require full disclosure than “to muzzle individual citizens from speaking out.”
“He’s strong, he’s honest and he goes by the book,” said Bob Raas, 70, a retired truck driver from Barrington, as he pulled a miniature copy of the Constitution from his shirt pocket.
Cruz was joined in the Granite State this weekend by former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, former Texas Governor Rick Perry and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.
In New Hampshire, voters still expect to shake hands and ask questions of candidates in person before they make their selections.
Cruz earlier this week received a cool reception from former New Hampshire GOP Chairman Fergus Cullen, who invited Jeb Bush to a gathering at his home but declined to invite Cruz, saying the Texas Senator represents everything that is wrong with the Republican Party in Washington.
The snub did little to dampen the enthusiasm of the bustling crowd of supporters who turned up to see Cruz.
“I would have driven a thousand miles to hear him,” said Gary DiPiero, a 47-year old landscaper who came from neighboring Massachusetts to hear the senator speak. “I’ve had it with the Bushes.”
(Editing By Frank McGurty and Michael Perry)