Senator Ted Cruz of Texas spoke to a cheering and applauding crowd in Raleigh on Monday, largely criticizing the foreign policy record of newly announced Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and President Obama.
Cruz, in his first appearance in North Carolina since announcing his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination, sought to blur distinctions between Clinton and the President, taking apart events during and after Clinton’s tenure as President Obama's first Secretary of State.
As other Republican contenders have, Cruz criticized Clinton’s response to the 2012 attack that killed a U.S. ambassador and three others at a diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, as well the President’s support of an European Union-backed plan to limit Iran’s nuclear program within 15 years.
Cruz has introduced a bill to re-impose and expand sanctions against Iran.
Yet Cruz, who advised President George W. Bush on domestic policy during his 2000 campaign, also tried to portray himself as a Washington outsider before the crowded room at a lunch event organized by the conservative John Locke Foundation. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio have announced their candidacies in what will likely make be a crowded run for the Republican nomination.
"If you see a candidate who Washington embraces, run and hide," Cruz told the crowd.
To win a majority of votes during North Carolina’s primary, Cruz would have to bring together the Christian conservatives, libertarians and Tea Party voters who turned out for the 2014 senatorial primary, and more. Cary physician Greg Brannon, the Tea Party favorite, earned 27.2 percent of votes, while the Rev. Mark Harris, former president of the state Baptist State Convention, earned 17.6 percent—cumulatively short of Sen. Thom Tillis, the business conservative and relative moderate who got 45.7 percent of the primary vote.