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Cruz Rallies Conservatives To Defund ObamaCare

Shelley Kofler

Republican Senator Ted Cruz faced some hecklers in Dallas Tuesday night as he urged conservatives to demand their elected representatives vote to defund ObamaCare.

The push comes as Cruz is increasingly mentioned as a likely presidential candidate in 2016.

 In just six weeks Americans- Texans included- will begin signing up for new healthcare exchanges created under the Affordable Care Act, often called ObamaCare.

Congressional Republicans have held numerous votes to weaken or do away with the health plan that have failed.

But Sen. Cruz told some 1600 conservative activists packed into a hotel ballroom there’s still time to act.

“Now is the single best time we have to defund ObamaCare,” Cruz told an applauding crowd.

The town hall felt a lot like the tea party rallies that fueled Cruz’ senate victory. 

Striding back and forth across a stage, shirt sleeves rolled up, no tie, Cruz urged the crowd to sign a defunding petition and to “light up the phones” of their elected representatives in Washington.

“There is nothing that scares elected officials more than hearing from their constituents.  And let me tell you liberty is never safer than when politicians are terrified,” Cruz said.

The Dallas event was part of a weeklong, cross-country tour organized by the political arm of the conservative Heritage Foundation.

Cruz and event organizers are calling for congressional Republicans to pass a bill that continues funding most aspects of the federal government beyond September except ObamaCare. 

Cruz says it would then fall on Senate Democrats and the President to decide if they wanted to reject the funding bill and allow the government to shut down.

Several audience members stood at different times to challenge the Senator.

Rhonda Bowman told Cruz she’s a diabetic who couldn’t afford her medication when her husband lost his job and the family health insurance.

"My insulin and neuropathy medicine cost $2,000 a month and I could not get that so I had to resort to Mexico to get my medicine," she said. 

Bowman says she voted for Cruz but wants to know how he’ll help the six million Texans without health insurance.

"I want to know he’s going to take care of people who work."  

It turned out Bowman was recruited by the Texas Organizing Project which supports the expansion of Medicaid coverage under ObamaCare.  Gabriel Pedreira was part of the protest they staged outside.

"If you listen to Ted Cruz and the Heritage Foundation’s talking points it seems to be survival of the fittest, some form of Darwinism, which says to working families-  if you aren’t rich enough to have insurance  you’re on your own," said Pedreira.

Before he heads back to Washington where the defunding effort will be tested, Cruz will travel to New Hampshire, home of the first presidential primary.

Recent road trips to Iowa and South Carolina make it pretty clear he’s weighing a run for President.

Cruz has faced questions about his eligibility since the president must be a natural-born citizen.

Cruz was born in Canada but his mother is from the United States which gives him makes him citizenship in  both countries.

Tuesday he said he’s willing to renounce his Canadian citizenship and leave the legal matters to others.

“I’ve been an American since birth, and as a U.S. Senator I think it’s appropriate I be only American,” he told reporters.

Some of Cruz’s conservative supporters have long questioned President Barack Obama's citizenship because of his Kenyan father.

Former KERA staffer Shelley Kofler was news director, managing editor and senior reporter. She is an award-winning reporter and television producer who previously served as the Austin bureau chief and legislative reporter for North Texas ABC affiliate WFAA-TV.