Ted Cruz wants to be the Uber of politics.
Playing to a crowded room of adoring fans at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday, Ted Cruz gave the crowd just what they wanted: a fiery speech full of conservative red meat.
But the senator from Texas and all-but-certain presidential contender also played up his fluency with the younger generation. He asked attendees to pull out their phones and text the word "Constitution" to the number 33733, allowing his nascent campaign to instantaneously collect data on possible supporters. His personal brand of politics, he said, jibes less with a divided Washington, and more with the innovative apps of Silicon Valley, such as popular ride-sharing services Uber and Lyft.
"What I'm trying to do more than anything else is bring a disruptive app to politics," he said.
Cruz criticized politicians in his own party for failing to stand up for what they believe in, saying, "Talk is cheap."
"Actions speak far, far louder than words," he said. "We need to look to people who walk the walk and don't just talk the talk."
The divide in Washington isn't between Republicans and Democrats, Cruz said, but between career politicians and "the American people."
"If you have a candidate that stood against Democrats, that's great," the Texan said. "When have you been willing to stand against Republicans? When have you been willing to stand with the people? This is a fundamental choice in our country. A fundamental direction, that the men and women here will decide."
On rallying against abortion rights, supporting Israel, and opposing Iran's acquisition of nuclear-weapons capabilities, Cruz asked the crowd—but, more important, his primary opponents—"When have you stood and fought?"
He also made many references to Obamacare—an easy applause line for the conservative audience—which he called a "train wreck," before asserting that "that's actually not fair to train wrecks."
In a brief, blustery question-and-answer session akin to a game of word association after his speech, Cruz laid out his "top five" agenda items to interviewer and conservative talk-show host Sean Hannity. As president, Cruz said, he would repeal "every blasted word of Obamacare," "abolish the IRS," "stop the out-of-control regulators at the EPA and the alphabet soup of Washington," "defend our constitutional rights"—thundering, "all of them"—and "restore America's leadership in the world as a shining city on a hill."
Hannity's line of questioning also gave Cruz a chance to show off his sense of humor. Asked to say the first words that come to mind at the name "Bill Clinton," the Texas senator joked: "Youth outreach"—an apparent reference to the former president's affair with a White House intern.
On whether Colorado should have legalized marijuana, he joked, "I was told Colorado provided the brownies here today." He also proposed a new show for Hannity, had he eaten weed brownies: The Magical Mystery Hannity Hour.
Hannity wrapped up his interview with Cruz by raising New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani's recent criticism of President Obama's patriotism. In what was likely the easiest question of the conference, Hannity asked Cruz why he loved America.
Cruz responded with vigor: "This country is the greatest country in the history of the world."