DES MOINES, Iowa — DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Texas Sen. Ted Cruz says this month’s partial government shutdown and his key role in it were a success: They got people talking.
"One of the things we accomplished in the fight over Obamacare is we elevated the national debate over what a disaster, what a train wreck, how much Obamacare is hurting millions of Americans across this country," Cruz told about 600 Iowa Republicans on Friday at the Iowa GOP’s annual fundraising dinner in Des Moines.
Cruz’s crusader’s spirit was the perfect example of what longtime Republicans in Iowa and nationally say is at the root of the party’s losing ways and has sparked an intraparty fight over the way forward after consecutive losing presidential elections.
It’s a conversation that’s spilling out from backstage to behind the podium between national GOP establishment luminaries and state leaders around the country.
Although he ultimately lost, the 42-year-old freshman senator played a leading role bringing about the 16-day partial federal shutdown with his demand that President Barack Obama gut his 3-year-old health care law. He also successfully urged a core of House Republicans to follow him.
The final and perhaps most important stop of Ted Cruz’s recent public tour was less an exclamation point on a series of raucous events in Texas and more a presentation of opposite ideas for the GOP’s way forward nationally.
Immediately before the Cruz spoke, five-term Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad barely acknowledged the guest and said the way forward for the party nationally was by way of the route cleared by Republican governors.
Branstad, 66, at the heart of Iowa’s GOP establishment, called Cruz “a bright, up-and-coming senator” before turning his attention to the tangible successes of Republican governors, beginning with Cruz’s own governor, Rick Perry of Texas.
"The results of conservative governors are making a difference," said Branstad, who is preparing to seek election next year.
It was Cruz’s third visit to Iowa, which is expected to hold the leadoff GOP nominating caucuses ahead of the 2016 presidential election.