AMES, Iowa — Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is the subject of endless 2016 presidential speculation, and if he does decide to run, he’s already learned one important lesson.
“You all had the opportunity earlier this afternoon to get to know my father. And as you saw, my dad is very soft spoken,” Cruz joked during a speech in Iowa this weekend. “I will confess, I am today violating what has been a cardinal rule, which is never, ever, ever follow my father at the podium.”
Cruz and his father, Rafael, a Texas pastor, both addressed a gathering of Christian conservatives in Ames, Iowa on Saturday, and the elder Cruz — speaking without notes — recounted his imprisonment and torture in Cuba during the 1950′s and subsequent immigration to the United States.
“A young charismatic leader rose up, talking about hope and change,” Rafael Cruz said in a veiled reference to President Obama’s 2008 campaign themes. “His name was Fidel Castro.”
For nearly 20 minutes, the pastor regaled the audience with a fiery pro-Christian, anti-Obama speech that drew a boisterous standing ovation from the crowd at an annual summit organized by the Family Leader, an Iowa-based conservative group.
“This administration has both their hands in your pocket,” the 74-year-old Cruz said. “They’re going to take everything you have.”
Near the end of his speech, he declared: “Obamacare is going to destroy the elderly by denying care, by even perhaps denying treatment to people who are in catastrophic circumstances.”
If his son, a first-term U.S. Senator, does decide to run for president, it’s clear that his father will be an impressive surrogate on the campaign trail. Cruz is no stranger to the media limelight, and he has been taking on a more public role as his son’s star has risen.
In an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network last month, Cruz called his son “gifted above any man that I know.”
“God has destined you for greatness,” he said of the senator.
And Rafael Cruz is about to get a lot more attention soon. Later this month, he will embark on a “Defund Obamacare Tour” organized by the Heritage Foundation, which will take him to cities across the country between Aug. 19 and Aug. 29.