GRAPEVINE –– Addressing the 43rd National Right to Life Convention on Friday, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz said state Sen. Wendy Davis’ filibuster of controversial abortion legislation earlier this week was to “protect the ability to take yet more lives.”
The first-term senator from Houston contrasted his colleague Sen. Rand Paul’s March filibuster of President Barack Obama’s controversial drone program with Davis’ filibuster of Senate Bill 5, the sweeping abortion bill that would’ve levied heavier requirements against clinics performing abortions and outlaw abortions after 20 weeks.
Cruz said the differences between the two were “really striking.”
“We were filibustering to protect the sanctity of life from arbitrary government destruction,” Cruz told the crowd of about 800. “When Austin democrats stood together in their filibuster, they were filibustering to protect the ability to carry out late term abortions, to protect the ability to take yet more lives. What a contrast.”
The Texas Republican received a warm welcome from the conservative crowd Friday in suburban Dallas, including a standing ovation upon discussing his failed amendment that would have cut foreign aid to countries in the United Nations that have a policy of forced abortions.
Cruz was a little-known former Texas solicitor general before riding a tea party wave of support to an upset win in last year's Republican Senate primary against Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, a GOP establishment favorite.
Cruz has made national headlines since arriving in Washington, with some calling him the Senate's new troublemaker.
But he's seen his profile slip lately. Cruz was a vocal critic of the sweeping immigration legislation the Senate overwhelmingly approved Thursday.
He said in a statement: "Sadly, this bill won't fix the problem with our immigration system and will only encourage more illegal immigration."
He did not touch on immigration during his speech, however he did renew his calls for the repeal of President Obama’s health care reform and the abolition of the Internal Revenue Service. He even jokingly opened his speech by referring to the controversy surrounding the reveal that the IRS may have used keywords to target different conservative groups.
“By virtue of attending this conference,” Cruz said with a smirk, “you’re going to be audited by the IRS.”
Gov. Rick Perry spoke at the convention on Thursday, addressing the last-minute filibuster that killed sweeping abortion legislation on the last day of the special session earlier this week. Led by Sen. Wendy Davis, D – Fort Worth, the senate's inability to pass the bill led the governor to schedule a second session to begin on Monday.
The governor weaved Davis directly into his speech, citing her upbringing as a reason why she should support the abortion regulation that she helped block. The Harvard Law School graduate who later became a state senator was the daughter of a single mother raising her first child at the age of 19.
"She didn't come from particularly good circumstances. What if her mom had said I just can't do this, I don't want to do this?," Perry said. "It's just unfortunate that she hasn't learned from her own example that every life must be given the chance to realize its full potential and that every life matters."
Davis later decried the governor's remarks, issuing a firey statement shortly after he left the stage at the Hyatt Regency D/FW International Airport hotel.
"Rick Perry's statement is without dignity and tarnishes the high office he holds," she said. "They are small words that reflect a dark and negative point of view. Our governor should reflect our Texas values. Sadly, Gov. Perry fails that test."
The Associated Press contributed to this report