- Associated Press - Thursday, August 20, 2015

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz campaigned at a Wyoming Republican Party fundraiser Thursday with tea-party-flavored promises to undo huge portions of President Barack Obama’s legacy, from health care reform to a nuclear agreement with Iran.

The junior U.S. senator from Texas passed on the chance to criticize Donald Trump, the billionaire with an early lead over the more than a dozen candidates seeking the Republican nomination.

“How fantastic is it that we have so many young, dynamic, charismatic leaders standing up to lead this country,” Cruz said to applause and an “amen” among the 150 or so attending.

Yet Cruz devoted a fair amount of time to Trump’s centerpiece issue, illegal immigration. Cruz joked that he would deter Mexicans from entering the country illegally by manning the southern border with thousands of IRS agents.

Cruz first was elected to the Senate in 2012 and quickly established himself as a leader of the tea party faction. He gained notoriety in 2013 for leading an unsuccessful fight to defund the Affordable Care Act that culminated in a partial federal government shutdown.

Speaking in Cheyenne, Cruz promised to “repeal every word” of Obama’s health care reform and replace it with “personal, portable and affordable” reform.

He said he would end the federal government’s efforts to require insurance coverage for contraception regardless of religious beliefs. Cruz also pledged to end environmental regulations that hurt the coal industry - a message with special significance in the top coal-producing state.

He promised to “rip to shreds” any nuclear agreement with Iran and urged the crowd to get behind a solidly conservative candidate such as himself.

“That is the only way we win,” Cruz said. “Every time we nominate Democrat-lite, we lose.”

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