- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 31, 2014

Sen. Ted Cruz said Saturday that the GOP can bolster its appeal by sticking to its conservative principles and embracing a bottom-up campaign model that empowers grassroots voters.

Speaking at the Republican Leadership Conference, Mr. Cruz said the party must ditch the Washington-centric campaign model and stop listening to the political consultants.

“A lot of Republicans tend to have top-down Soviet-style campaigns,” Mr. Cruz said. “It is very odd for a party that believes in free market that they run campaigns through command and control.”

“That is disempowering and it doesn’t inspire,” Mr. Cruz said. “What is far more effective is having a race built on empowering the grassroots.”

Since being elected in 2012, Mr. Cruz has occasionally butted headed with GOP leaders in Washington, and has become a darling of the tea party and grassroots activists around the country.

The 43-year-old is now thought to be considering a run for GOP presidential nomination in 2016 in what is shaping up to be a crowded field.

Mr. Cruz served as one of the main attractions of the three-day gathering here in the Big Easy, where activist were given the chance to interact with and hear from party leaders and some of the darlings of the conservative movement.

Mr. Cruz kicked off the morning by addressing prayer breakfast, then electrified the thousands that turned out for the event. He also spoke with reporters.

He warned that religious liberty is under assault in the United States and abroad. He said he is confident that Republicans will pick up the six seats they need to win the Senate.

And he said that his 21-hour filibuster against Obamacare, which was blamed for the government shutdown and tarnished the party’s image, according to GOP pollsters, has strengthened the party’s hand heading into the 2014 midterm election, where they need to pick up six seats to take over the chamber.

“Any wartime general will tell you that not every war in won in a single battle,” he said, arguing that the effort shined a bright light on “the disaster that is Obamacare.”

Mr. Cruz said the “graybeards” in Washington, who opposed the effort, are now “reaping the fruits” of the effort.

“We need to take a moment to acknowledge the lesson of the battle,” he said. “How you win elections, you don’t win it by standing for nothing.”

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