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Criticized In Washington, Ted Cruz Is Feelin' Some Love At Home In Texas

Shelley Kofler
Sen. Ted Cruz listened to small business owners during a meeting in Fort Worth.

So, where do you go when you need some TLC and appreciation?  Home, right?

That’s exactly what Sen. Ted Cruz has been doing this week.

Tuesday while some national business leaders were taking swipes at Texas’s Junior Senator he was feasting on a little comfort food in Fort Worth.

The president of the powerful U.S. Chamber of Commerce had said Sen. Cruz is like a tennis player who rushes the net but hasn’t proven he can win.  Tom Donohue suggested Cruz should start talking to people about how to get things done “instead of telling everybody how he’s going to get them done.”

But at the Fort Worth Chamber Cruz said he saw no need to mend fences with the business community. 

Credit Shelley Kofler / KERA News
Business owner Chis Warren brought wife Camie and son Camden to meet Sen. Cruz. Warren talked to Cruz about how the Affordable Care Act will affect his company.

  “In Texas the reaction has been incredible,” said Cruz after meeting with some 20 small business owners.

“I’ll tell you given the choice between being appreciated in Texas and reviled in Washington, D.C., or appreciated in Washington, D.C. and reviled in Texas, I’ll choose the former 100 out of 100 times,” said Cruz.

Joan Trew, the owner of a real estate company, says she likes the way Cruz has handled himself on the Hill.

“He gave hope, grassroots hope, that maybe we were ready to turn around the country,” she said.

Fort Worth Chamber President Bill Thornton says the ripple effects of the government shutdown some blame on Cruz were felt by local businesses.

“When you have as many federal contractors as we have here and a joint reserve base there’s no doubt it was felt here in this community,” he conceded.

But Thornton says the shutdown never once came up during the hour-long, private meeting which Cruz requested.

Thornton says Cruz mostly listened as the business owners talked about their three biggest concerns:  rising taxes; an uncertain regulatory environment; and the issue Cruz sees as the dragon he’s sworn to slay- the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. 

Chris Warren owns a heating and air conditioning business that employs 65 workers. He wants Cruz to continue the fight because Warren’s not sure he will be able to offer his company’s current level of health coverage under the new federal law.

“I think the healthcare reform has significant impact on small businesses like mine and something needs to be done,” said Warren.

“We pay the cost 100 percent and I think if the rates rise the way they have been we’re going to be faced with a situation where we can’t keep absorbing those costs,” he said.

While Cruz is relentless in insisting Obamacare has got to go, he declined to say whether he’ll again make defunding it an ultimatum when Congress faces the next budget deadline in January.

“There will be time to talk about the specific strategies and tactics,” said Cruz. 

Right now he’s just feeling the love in his home state of Texas, before returning to the harsh criticism that surrounds him in Washington.

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.