Photos by Phillip Engh
“We should abolish the IRS,” Ted Cruz announced to roaring applause from Colorado’s assembled Republican delegates. Scorning the podium used by previous speakers, Cruz paced the stage, relaying his vision of the U.S. to an ecstatic audience.
The biggest name at the Republican Colorado State Assembly, Cruz was preceded by a smattering of celebrated Colorado Republicans and aspiring senate hopefuls. Darryl Glenn, an underdog, was selected as the only Republican candidate to be endorsed by the Republican Party for the senate race against current senator Michael Bennet.
The State Convention comes at a strange time for the Colorado Republican Party, as they just decided to free delegates from voting for the candidate who won the state. As a result, no winner will be declared and delegates will be free to select any candidate in the national convention.
Cruz deemed it a good use of time to visit the state, even while Trump and Kasich passed on the opportunity. In his speech, he diagnosed the problems he sees in the U.S. and made promises to amend them if elected. Citing jobs, freedom, and security as his main concerns, Cruz stated, “our country is in crisis.”
Calling attention to rising part-time employment and an associated lack of benefits for workers, increasing cost of living, and student loans, Cruz committed himself to improving the job climate of the U.S.
Cruz conjured an image of the U.S. where citizens could fill out taxes on a “postcard,” advocating for a flat tax system in which brackets would not exist, and all citizens would pay a 10 percent income tax, beginning after $36,000. Corporations would pay a 16 percent income tax. Currently, taxes on corporations vary from 15 percent to 39 percent depending on the state.
On international issues, Cruz was hawkish, promising to rebuild the military and calling the current rules of engagement “immoral” in their restraint. Cruz advocated for strong use of force in the Middle East. “As president, I will not be neutral,” Cruz said, a jab at Trump. “America will stand unapologetically with the nation of Israel.”
Reminding delegates that both the legislative and judicial branches of government are at stake in this election, Cruz told the audience that a liberal justice would end the Second Amendment.
He made an effort to distinguish himself from Trump. “It’s easy to talk about making America great again. But the real question is do you understand the principles that made this country great in the first place,” he said, emphasizing his history of constitutional conservatives and contrasting it with Trump’s tendency to donate to Democratic candidates.
“We are gonna turn this country around,” Cruz finished.
Darryl Glenn, who was selected as the GOP senate candidate, gave an impassioned speech earlier in the day. In between jabs at Clinton and Obama, Glenn stated his commitment to the pro-life movement. Citing the notorious and debunked baby-part video, which supposedly proved that Planned Parenthood employees were illegally selling baby-parts on the black market, Glenn promised to defund the organization completely.
Glenn did not reference the shooting that took place at Planned Parenthood just a few months ago, likely as a result of the same video.
Glenn, one of three black candidates at the convention, told the almost entirely white crowd “all lives matter,” to perhaps the most raucous applause of the afternoon.
Glenn also promised to repeal the Iran nuclear deal, and seemed to threaten Iran with war for endangering Israel. Like Cruz, he talked about defunding sanctuary cities, and proclaimed his commitment to gun rights. “Let’s stop apologizing for American exceptionalism,” said Glenn.
After a fractured Republican field was defeated in the congressional race by Bennet last election cycle, the GOP hopes a single candidate on the ballot will be able to shift the odds in their favor. As for Cruz, making an appearance in Colorado may win him delegates when the national convention comes around.