Ted Cruz's ‘Tough as Texas' Campaign Theme Taps post-Harvey Goodwill, But Hard Edge Remains

WASHINGTON -- Ted Cruz unveiled his Senate reelection theme on Monday, casting himself as "Tough as Texas" and basking in the apolitical afterglow of Hurricane Harvey -- even as he jabbed at Democrats for eroding gun rights, raging at the president, and leaving the border unprotected.Five years after heading to Washington as a tea party firebrand, Cruz has seized on storm recovery as a way to soften his image. But he remains a pugilist, poking at Democratic Rep. Beto O'Rourke and positioning himself as a conservative champion in Washington."This election presents a contrast, between Democrats promising higher taxes, more regulation, more Obamacare, more government, more debt, fewer freedoms and less rights, versus standing for Texas values of lower taxes, less regulation, less government, less Obamacare, repealing Obamacare, abolishing the IRS, and protecting our fundamental rights as Americans," Cruz said in Beaumont, the first stop of a three-day, 12-city campaign tour.He lauded volunteers who rescued neighbors and strangers at the height of the massive storm last fall, invoking iconic Texans Jim Bowie and Davie Crockett."Texas is a land of heroes," he said, heaping praise on "rednecks in bass boats" and other ordinary Texans who stepped up when Harvey hit the Gulf Coast.Cruz made few friends in Washington in his first years as a senator. His quixotic demands for Republicans to overturn Obamacare, with President Barack Obama prepared to veto any such legislation, led to a 16-day government shutdown that many fellow Republicans viewed as grandstanding.The episode helped propel his 2016 presidential bid, though resentments linger, and it was one of many instances that made Cruz a target for Democrats and Republicans alike.He alluded to his contrarian reputation in Beaumont, recalling the extraordinary efforts required to restore water service after Hurricane Harvey."I was here the day the water got turned on. A couple people gave me credit for it. I figure well heck if you're going to get blamed for everything that goes wrong you might as well take a little credit when something goes right," he joked.  Continue reading...

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