Ted Cruz Ripped His GOP Debate Talking Points Straight From The Limbaugh Playbook

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) sounded like a “dedicated Rush Limbaugh listener” at the January 14 GOP presidential primary debate, wrote Vox's Matthew Yglesias, highlighting how Cruz is gaining popularity among conservative voters by “espousing orthodox conservative views” and echoing many of Limbaugh's falsehoods and conspiracy theories.

Ted Cruz Sounded Like A “Dedicated Rush Limbaugh Listener” At GOP Debate

Vox's Matthew Yglesias: Ted Cruz Dominated Republican Debate By “Operating On The Same Wavelength As a Dedicated Rush Limbaugh Listener.” Vox's Matthew Yglesias wrote on January 15 that Ted Cruz “dominated the Fox Business News Republican primary debate” by “espousing orthodox conservative views” and “operating on the same wavelength as a dedicated Rush Limbaugh listener in a way that none of the other candidates are”:

Ted Cruz dominated the Fox Business News Republican primary debate in South Carolina. He went toe-to-toe with Donald Trump and with Marco Rubio. He didn't slay either of them, but they didn't slay him. Best of all, he was centrally positioned throughout the evening -- someone who speaks for grassroots discontent with the GOP establishment, but someone who does so from a standpoint of a conservatism that is much deeper and more authentic than Donald Trump's.

The center of the party is a good position to hold in a primary, and Cruz firmly seized that middle ground. With Trump exerting a gravitational influence on the shape of the race, a guy who stood on the margin of the Senate Republican caucus suddenly looks like a useful bridge between Republican officialdom and the conservative grassroots. He's not well-liked by the party leadership in Washington, but he's intensely in touch with what committed conservatives think and care about.


Every candidate on the stage denounced Obama's calls for gun control, but only Cruz managed to work in the Fast and Furious pseudo-scandal and anobscure 1995 Eric Holder quoteabout wanting to “brainwash people into thinking about guns in a vastly different way.” Cruz is simply operating on the same wavelength as a dedicated Rush Limbaugh listener in a way that none of the other candidates are.

And along with Trump, he is exciting. He has energy and presence that the establishment foursome lack.

And while Trump's gonzo schtick will continue to be appealing to a significant segment of the Republican electorate, what Cruz managed to do was to energize while espousing orthodox conservative views. [Vox, 1/15/16]

Cruz's Talking Points Echo Years Of Limbaugh's Falsehoods And Conspiracy Theories

Cruz Followed Limbaugh In Taking Decades-Old Eric Holder Speech Out Of Context To Claim He Wanted To Brainwash People Against Guns

Cruz In 2016: “Eric Holder Said He Viewed His Mission As Brainwashing The American People Against Guns.” During the January 14 Fox Business Republican primary debate, Cruz took a 1995 speech by former Attorney General Eric Holder out of context to claim “Holder said he viewed his mission as brainwashing the American people against guns”:

MARIA BARTIROMO: So what is the answer, Senator Cruz, to stop mass shootings and violent crime, up in 30 cities across the country?


TED CRUZ (R-TX):You know, a minute ago, Neil asked: What has President Obama do -- done to illustrate that he wants to go after guns?

Well, he appointed Eric Holder as attorney general. Eric Holder said he viewed his mission as brainwashing the American people against guns. [The Washington Post, 1/14/16]

Limbaugh In 2012: Holder's “Ultimate Objective Was To Get People To Change Their Minds About Guns.” In 2012 and 2013 Rush Limbaugh mischaracterized then-Attorney General Holder's 21-year-old speech on guns, claiming that Holder's “ultimate objective was to get people to change their minds about guns” and that the Obama administration was “planning a gun grab.” [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 6/26/12, 1/9/13]

Holder's 1995 Comments Were Actually About Discouragng People From Violating D.C.'s Gun Laws. In Eric Holder's 1995 speech to the Woman's National Democratic Club, he “said that he wanted a campaign involving television ads and celebrities to convince young people in D.C. that it is 'not cool, that it's not acceptable, it's not hip to carry a gun anymore,'” to encourage D.C. residents not to break the jurisdiction's gun laws. [Media Matters, 3/19/12, 3/19/12]

Cruz Parroted Limbaugh's Claim That Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor “Reject[s] The Second Amendment”

Cruz In 2016: Justice Sotomayor “Has Been A Radical Against The Second Amendment.” During the January 14 Republican primary debate, Cruz derided Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, claiming she is “a radical against the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.” [The Washington Post, 1/14/16]

Limbaugh In 2009: Sotomayor “Reject[s] The Second Amendment.” In 2009, Limbaugh claimed Sotomayor rejected “the Second Amendment, the right to keep and bear arms,” and that “President Obama wants Sonia Sotomayor on the Supreme Court” because “he's not looking at someone to defend the Constitution ... He wants somebody who will do his bidding there, and that is deconstruct it.” [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 5/29/09, 6/16/09]

Cruz Revived Limbaugh's “Fast And Furious” Conspiracy Theory

Cruz In 2016: Obama “Illegally [Sold] Guns To Mexican Drug Lords” That Were Used In “Fast And Furious” Operation To Kill Law Enforcement. Cruz revived the Operation Fast and Furious “pseudo-scandal,” as Vox's Yglesias called it, during the January 14 GOP debate, saying President Obama “launched Fast and Furious, illegally selling guns to Mexican drug lords that were then used to shoot law enforcement officials.” [The Washington Post, 1/14/16]

Limbaugh In 2012: Obama Purposely Shipped “Guns Across The Border In The Hands Of Mexican Drug Cartels.” In 2012 Limbaugh claimed “the purpose of Fast and Furious, one of the purposes was, to get those guns across the border in the hands of Mexican drug cartels, have crimes committed, and then say we gotta do something about the Second Amendment.” Limbaugh further said, “How do American guns get to Mexico? Well we got them there because we gave them.” [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 6/9/12]

Limbaugh's Fast And Furious Conspiracy Theory Has Been Repeatedly Debunked By Lead Republican Who Investigated The Operation. The conspiracy theory that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives' (ATF) botched Operation Fast and Furious was actually a secret Obama administration plot to undermine the Second Amendment, rather than an operation to bring down Mexican drug cartels, has been repeatedly debunked by the lead Republican investigating the operation, Darrell Issa. Issa explained in a memorandum that the Fast and Furious operation to allow straw purchasers to buy and transfer guns without being arrested was conceived because law enforcement officials “hoped the weapons, after they were recovered at crime scenes in Mexico, could be traced and linked to cartel operatives including possible high-level financiers, suppliers, and possibly even king-pins” -- and at no point asserted that the program may have had a different, more nefarious purpose. [Media Matters, 5/17/12]

Limbaugh Has Long Championed A Ted Cruz Presidential Campaign

Limbaugh Extolled Cruz As A “Dominant Influence” Of The Republican “Revival” Long Before Cruz's Campaign Launch. Throughout 2013 and 2014, Rush Limbaugh heaped praise on Cruz and cheered his rise in the right-wing, calling him “the smartest man in Congress” and claiming that “Cruz is fighting for freedom in the greatest tradition of American freedom fighters.” From Media Matters:

After Cruz announced the launch of his campaign, Rush Limbaugh praised Cruz, suggesting that he “might be the smartest man in Congress.”

In July 2014, Rush predicted that if Ted Cruz continued his rise in “dominant influence,” he would lead a nascent Republican “revival” that is “just awaiting leadership.”

In September 2013, Limbaugh lashed out at Fox News' Brit Hume for alleging that Cruz was influenced by Limbaugh and other conservative media in his repeated efforts to defund Obama's health care law. Limbaugh defended Cruz, asserting that “Ted Cruz isn't afraid of anybody,” and went on to praise the Republican senator, saying “Ted Cruz is fighting for freedom in the greatest tradition of American freedom fighters.” Limbaugh added that in his efforts to defund the health care law, “Ted Cruz is attempting to [] marshal the support of the American people ... in the greatest traditions of the American founding and the existence of the country.” [Media Matters, 3/24/15]