Sen. Ted Cruz returned to Texas following a whirlwind week in Washington that saw an end to the partial government shutdown that he helped ensure -- and for which he made no apologies.
Instead, Cruz blasted his fellow Senate Republicans, saying they are most to blame for the failure of the push to defund or delay Obamacare.
"The House Republicans marched into battle courageously," the first-term senator told the Texas Federation of Republican Women's state convention on Saturday, "and the Senate Republicans should have come in like the cavalry to support them."
Instead, said Cruz, "a significant chunk of Senate Republicans came like the Air Force and began bombing the House Republicans, our own troops."
Cruz was a leading voice in Republicans push for Congress to reject any funding proposal to reopen the government that did not specifically defund President Barack Obama's signature health care law, the Affordable Care Act. He even spoke for more than 21 hours in a filibuster-like attempt to promote his strategy in the Senate.
Throughout his remarks Saturday, Cruz railed against what he called "the Washington establishment" -- people from both political parties who he says are afraid of grassroots movements.
"There are a lot of professional pundits in Washington who go on television and explain that 'Well, if you stand for anything, it's risky, and we may lose elections in 2014 as a result of this,'" Cruz said, seemingly referring to critics within his own party. "You want to win an election in 2014? Republicans need to stand for principle. And it is the grassroots, organized, that will win elections in 2014."
While Cruz lambasted his critics in Congress, he heaped praise on his grassroots supporters. The effort to defund Obamacare will eventually be viewed as a success, he said, because it energized conservative voters, drew attention to flaws in the health care law and caused Democrats to take "a lot of stupid votes."
He called on supporters to keep up the pressure on their elected officials.
"Nobody said this was going to be easy," Cruz warned. "And nobody should be surprised that the Washington establishment fights back."
Cruz went so far as to tell supporters about the tone of discussion in closed-door meetings, a breach of unspoken congressional etiquette. He accused fellow members of Congress of making back room deals that they don't admit to, claiming that they fear constituents involved in grassroots movements.
"Over and over again," said Cruz, "my colleagues have turned... red in the face, and said: 'My constituents keep calling me!'"
However unpopular Cruz might be in Washington, he maintains significant support from Texas conservatives and was well received at the San Antonio event. He entered to a standing ovation and his remarks were met with cheers of "We love Ted Cruz."
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