Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks at the 40th annual Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Md. , Saturday, March 16, 2013. (AP)
Sen. Ted Cruz is embracing the "wacko bird" label.
The Texas Republican joked to eager conservative activists on Saturday that he wasn't initially sure what to make of Sen. John McCain's slam after Cruz participated in colleague Rand Paul's filibuster of John Brannan's confirmation as CIA director.
"I have to admit, when Rand and I first heard that, we thought that was maybe a new kind of drone," Cruz said at the Conservative Political Action Conference. "If standing for liberty and standing for the Constitution makes you a wacko bird, then count me a proud wacko bird."
Cruz has exploded onto the political stage in the short time he's been a member of the Senate, bolstered earlier this month by his high-profile turn in Paul's filibuster on the issue of drone strikes. His keynote speech capped three days of political speeches at the Conservative Political Action Conference, held just outside Washington, D.C.
He told CPAC-goers he's been most struck by the "defeatist attitude" among Republicans in Washington, and proclaimed that right now, conservatives are winning.
“For the last three weeks, conservatives have been winning, and we’re winning because of you,” Cruz said, citing spending cuts due to sequestration and the Obama administration's clarification on its drone policy.
He received a standing ovation when he proclaimed that he had offered a Senate amendment last week to defund President Barack Obama's health care law.
"Every Democrat voted together to keep Obamacare funding, even if it pushes us into recession," Cruz said.
He also poked fun at Vice President Joe Biden's advice to fire a shotgun into the air to ward off intruders, calling it "very helpful advice if you're being attacked by a flock of geese -- or for that matter, a drone."
Cruz said the U.S. needs to get back to its founding principles and champion growth as a way back to economic prosperity.
"We have a federal government who thinks they have the authority to regulate our toilet seats and our light bulbs," Cruz said. "We need to get back to the Constitution."
He said Obamacare and the Dodd-Frank financial regulations act both need to go, and that the Environmental Protection Agency needs to be reigned in. Cruz said that in Texas, the EPA is trying to halt oil production because of a certain type of lizard.
"My view of lizards? They make darn fine boots," he said.
He earned a standing ovation from the audience when he declared, "We need to stand with Israel," and followed it up with, "But we need to stop sending foreign aid to nations that hate us."
Cruz hit traditional media outlets ABC, NBC, CBS and the New York Times, saying, "the world has changed -- there are no longer gatekeepers who an decide what the American people get to hear and what they don't get to hear."
"We are facing a fundamental choice. A choice between surrendering or standing up now for liberty," Cruz said. "On drones, do we surrender, or do we stand up now? On spending, do we surrender, or do we stand up now? On debt, do we surrender or do we stand up now? And on the Constitution, do we surrender, or do we stand up now?"
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