May 29, 2015 4:27 PM
Steinhauser: Cruz talks Texas flooding during NH swing
NH1 Political Director - NH1.com
CONCORD – Sen. Ted Cruz may be campaigning in New Hampshire, but he’s got his mind on his home state of Texas, which is reeling from devastating floods.
“Texans are hurting right now. The flooding has been terrific. I went this week and toured central Texas where the Blanco River rose up, there was a 42-43 foot wall of water, demolished 75 houses. The death toll, we’ve got 20 now who’ve lost their lives. We’ve got hundreds who’ve lost their homes,” Cruz said in a one-on-one interview with NH1 News Friday.
But Cruz added that “at the same time it’s been extraordinary and uplifting to see Americans coming together. I’ve toured some of the homes that were lost and you’ve seen citizens helping clean through the rubble, helping families. There are people who’ve lost their homes who are sleeping on the couches of neighbors. And you’re seeing the community and the charities and churches coming together. We’re seeing incredible heroism and bravery from first responders.”
On Wednesday, the first term senator assured Texans that the Lone Star State would see federal relief funds in the wake of the deadly flooding. But the GOP presidential candidate’s also come under criticism on social media because in one of his first votes in the Senate, he opposed federal funding for northeast states following Superstorm Sandy.
At the time Cruz said he opposed the relief bill because “cynical politicians in Washington could not resist loading up this relief bill with billions in new spending utterly unrelated to Sandy.”
An aide to the senator told NH1 News that all that Cruz is calling for now is straight relief funding directly related to the flooding in Texas.
Cruz spoke to NH1News in downtown Concord, prior to meeting with New Hampshire Leadership Team co-chairs state Rep. and former House Speaker Bill O’Brien, former U.S. Sen. Bob Smith, and Executive Councilor David Wheeler.
Friday is the first of what was supposed to be a four day swing by Cruz through the first-in-the-nation primary state. But the senator was forced to cut the trip in half, so he could return to the nation’s capital by Sunday to take part in a rare weekend session to try and find a compromise on controversial parts of the Patriot Act, which are set to expire Monday. Lawmakers are battling over the bulk collection of domestic phone records by the National Security Agency. A federal appeals court recently ruled that the NSA’s actions were illegal.
Cruz is an original co-sponsor of a compromise bill called the USA Freedom Act.
“I think that’s what we need to do. The USA Freedom Act is bipartisan legislation,” he told NH1 News. “It ends the federal government’s bulk collection of our phone meta data. It ends it all together.”
“We need to get the federal government out of the business of collecting your and my personal phone records,” he added. “But secondly the USA Freedom Act ensures that law enforcement and national security has the tools so if there’s specific information about a particular individual being connected to radical terrorism, we have the tools to get that person’s phone records based on specific evidence. That’s the way our bill of rights is supposed to work, with particularized evidence rather than just sweeping in all law abiding citizens.”
Even though Cruz is cutting short his campaign visit, he’s been criticized for missing votes back in Washington. But Cruz defended himself, saying “I don’t think anyone would characterize me as a back bencher”
But he acknowledged that “you gotta spend a lot of time here on the ground, meeting with men and women of this state one on one, meeting with them in small groups.”
“I intend to spend a lot of time here in New Hampshire working to build our team. We’ve seen an incredible team come together…. We’re seeing conservatives and libertarians, evangelicals and young people, and women and Hispanics and young people,” Cruz added.