By Newsweek |

At CPAC, Ted Cruz Mocks Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Says, 'Donald J. Trump Ain't Going Anywhere'

Speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Florida on Friday, Senator Ted Cruz pushed back on assertions that the GOP is in the midst of a civil war and asserted that former President Donald Trump will remain a key figure in the party.

"There are a whole lot of voices in Washington that want to just erase the last four years," the Texas Republican said during a speech titled "Bill of Rights, Liberty and Cancel Culture."

He added, "They look at Donald J. Trump and they look at the millions and millions of people inspired, who went to battle fighting alongside President Trump, and they're terrified and they want him to go away. Let me tell you this right now: Donald J. Trump ain't going anywhere."

Trump's continued influence over the GOP will be on full display at the annual Republican conference, culminating in a keynote address from the ex-president himself on Sunday.

Cruz also said the media "desperately, desperately, desperately, desperately wants to see a Republican civil war," amid a growing divide between those who want the GOP to distance itself from Trump and those who see the former president as instrumental to the party's future. The split has been on full display since the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6.

"Look, are there tensions in our party? Sure," Cruz said. "Because we believe in diversity, we believe in individuality. Different people have different views.... We don't believe in uniformity."

The senator also spent a good portion of his speech attacking the Democratic Party. He criticized the coronavirus guidelines imposed by California and New York and said Democratic leaders in Washington were engaging in "political theater" by increasing security around the U.S. Capitol.

"We are gathered in dark times," Cruz said. "We're gathered at a time where the hard left, where the socialists, control the levers of government. Where they control the White House, where they control every executive branch, where they control both houses of Congress."

The senator also mocked some Democrats by name. "Bernie is wearing mittens," he said, referring to when Senator Bernie Sanders went viral for wearing mittens to President Joe Biden's inauguration ceremony.

"And AOC is telling us she was murdered," Cruz added, referring to Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's account of the Capitol Hill invasion. In an Instagram post earlier this month, she said she thought she was going to die during the attack.

Cruz's appearance at CPAC follows the controversy over his trip to Cancun, Mexico, as his home state of Texas experienced life-threatening power outages and freezing temperatures from a pair of winter storms.

The senator began his speech on Friday by briefly referencing the trip, telling the audience, "Orlando is awesome. It's not as nice as Cancun, but it's nice."

Ted Cruz CPAC appearance 2021

Senator Ted Cruz speaks as he visits a radio station set up at the Conservative Political Action Conference on February 26. Joe Raedle/Getty