After U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, took the stage Tuesday night at Heritage Action for America’s “Defund Obamacare” event in Dallas, he was quickly interrupted.
The cheering, waving, and whistling for the state’s junior senator had died down, and a woman stood up. She had recently lost her health insurance, she said, and had to travel to Mexico to purchase her diabetes medicine.
“What are you going to do,” she said, pointing at Cruz, “to help the six million uninsured Texans?”
Cruz paused, but was interrupted again.
“We can take care of ourselves,” yelled a voice from across the Hilton Anatole ballroom.
And, with that, the night was off.
No fewer than three attendees were removed from the event, each after interrupting Cruz with yelled statements about health insurance. If the Affordable Care Act wasn’t the solution, they asked, what was? Each time, the audience members were roundly booed by the majority anti-Obamacare crowd. In one instance, after two Hispanic men chanted, “You have healthcare, so should we,” the crowd answered back with a chorus of “U.S.A., U.S.A.” As the men were ushered out of the room, a middle-aged couple screamed, “You communist pr*cks” in their faces.
Once the protestors were removed, Cruz began his pitch in earnest. Bipartisan support to overturn the Affordable Care Act, he said, is growing. He urged the 1,000-strong crowd to call their congressmen, to fill their in-boxes with messages, to force Washington’s hand. Liberty, Cruz said, is never safer than when politicians are terrified.
“One side or the other has to blink,” he said. “So how do we win this fight?”
As if cue cards suddenly had appeared onstage, the crowd answered: “Don’t blink!”
Despite Cruz’s claims to the contrary, Defund Obamacare—whose supporters pledge not to fund the government if it includes money for the president’s healthcare law—has failed to gain much traction with the GOP’s upper echelon. This was not the case inside the Hilton Anatole ballroom, nor the case Monday in Fayetteville, Ark., where the tour kicked off. The crowd cheered and stood after every uttering of “defund Obamacare,” and, an hour before the event began, lines snaked through the hotel lobby.
“I apologize for the lines to get in tonight, but it was on purpose,” said Heritage Foundation president and former U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint. “We wanted to simulate what it was going to be like in a couple years at the doctor’s office.” He went on to call the Affordable Care Act “probably the most destructive law ever imposed on the American people.”
DeMint hammered home Cruz’s points, reiterating his belief that the law would hurt the young people and minorities it’s intended to help by saddling them with higher premiums. Despite DeMint’s and Cruz’s position that the law would hurt minorities the most, the Heritage Foundation seemed to have a hard time attracting non-whites to the event.
On the stage, behind the speakers, the racial demographics were roughly eight white supporters to one minority supporter. In the audience, the ratio was closer to 100 to 1. Coincidentally, the other event at the Anatole Tuesday was the Blacks in Government National Training Institute conference.
In addition to the Defund tour, tea party and anti-Obamacare groups are launching online ads against a dozen GOP senators who either oppose the defunding effort or haven’t announced a position yet. Heritage Action will also run a $550,000 online campaign in 100 Republican-controlled districts as part of the same effort.
“If you’re giving up the fight against socialized medicine, you’re almost giving up on the country,” DeMint said.
The Defund Obamacare tour continues tomorrow in Tampa, Fla., before traveling to six more cities across the eastern United States.
(See video below of one set of protestors interrupting Cruz)