U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who has been the most vocal leader of the fight to defund the Affordable Care Act in the Senate, came to Richmond Saturday night, speaking before a crowd of more than 1,000 at the Greater Richmond Convention Center.
Cruz, was the keynote speaker at the yearly get-together of the Family Foundation of Virginia, a very conservative anti-abortion group that centers its beliefs on preserving traditional marriage. Cruz barely mentioned the government shutdown, opting instead to focus his remarks on his "pet peeve." the Affordable Care Act.
Saying that “Obamacare is hands down, the No. 1 job killer in this country,” Cruz went on to point out that one in ten American workers are being forced into part-time jobs because Obamacare "kicks in at 30 hours a week." Cruz went on to blast the health care law, claiming that 50 percent of small business owners are being forced to reduce employee hours, or hire part-time workers.
Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican candidate for governor, and E.W. Jackson, the party’s nominee for lieutenant governor. were invited guests at the event. Cuccinelli may have found himself in a difficult position, after publicly calling for an end to the shutdown.
Cuccinelli has distanced himself from Cruz, saying that repealing the Affordable Care Act should probably wait until after the government shutdown has ended. The Attorney General made a few brief remarks Saturday night, but did not mention Cruz or Obamacare.
Instead, Cuccinelli accused Terry McAuliffe, his Democratic opponent, of threatening to shutdown Virginia's government. His remarks were based on a statement made by McAuliffe, that as governor, he would not sign a budget without the inclusion of a Medicaid expansion.
Cruz was more magnanimous, embracing Cuccinelli, calling him "my good friend, Ken." As far as the Family Foundation was concerned, Cruz's visit to Richmond at this time was perfect, now that the government is in shutdown, and he is in the national spotlight.
“We invited Senator Cruz several months ago because he’s obviously a rising star in the conservative movement who many pro-family Virginians would like to hear,” said Victoria Cobb, president of the foundation.
Even though Family Foundation officials have insisted the fundraising event was not a campaign or fundraiser for the Republican Gubernatorial candidate, Cuccinelli did benefit, indirectly at least, from all the goings-on. Sponsors of tables at the event received copies of Cuccinelli's book, “The Last Line of Defense,” courtesy of the Family Foundation Action.
The event was not without its opponents, because about 200 Planned Parenthood PAC supporters and volunteers gathered outside the Convention Center to protest the GOP’s agenda on health care and women’s rights. Cianti Stewart-Reid, executive director of Planned Parenthood Virginia PAC, said she was not too surprised to see Cuccinelli appearing beside Cruz at the same event.
“Ken Cuccinelli has a similar history of putting his extreme ideology over women’s health and economic security, and that’s why we’ll be calling attention to this event with Ted Cruz — we need leaders who won’t use women’s health as a bargaining chip,” Stewart-Reid said.