Sen. Ted Cruz tonight showered Gov. Scott Walker with praise during a GOP event in Milwaukee, calling him a “rock star” who has inspired “millions of Americans.”
The Texas senator gave a 20-minute speech during the fish fry banquet at Serb Hall. But he wasn’t alone. The event included Walker, former Gov. Tommy Thompson, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who was standing in for Donald Trump.
Cruz, in praising Walker, cited the guv’s fight with “union bosses” over Act 10.
“The courage and principle that Scott Walker and the people of Wisconsin demonstrated over and over and over again is exactly the courage and principle we need in Washington, D.C., to turn this country around,” Cruz said. “Scott, thank you for your friendship.”
Walker, who introduced Cruz, spent the first half of his 10-minute speech talking about his achievements as governor. He then compared himself to Cruz, telling the crowd the senator’s father talks like and “does some of the same things” as Walker’s father.
“We’re both preachers’ kids,” Walker said. “We understand how our kids feel being the kids of a governor and a senator.”
Walker then borrowed a line from his short-lived presidential campaign, saying, “Ted Cruz is not afraid to take on the status quo.”
Cruz was clearly the audience favorite at the event, which drew nearly 800 Republican supporters. Many guests wore Cruz or Kasich buttons, but a few carried Trump signs.
The crowd included numerous Wisconsin GOP elected officials. Guests stood up and cheered when Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke entered, wearing his trademark cowboy hat.
And one-time U.S. Senate hopeful Eric Hovde offered a toast.
“We may very well have a contested convention for the first time since 1948,” he said, after wishing Cruz and Kasich the “endurance” to remain in the race.
Kasich, who is Croatian, opened his 23-minute speech by joking about taking the stage in the city’s Serbian neighborhood.
“People wonder how could you bring Congress together and how could you get things done,” Kasich said. “But I just had the man that runs the Serbian Hall come to me and say, ‘My wife and I voted for you.’”
Kasich said he received a similar vote of confidence from a Serbian supporter when running for office in 1977.
“I did it twice,” he said. “I brought together the Serbians and the Croats. If you can do that, you can bring anybody together, believe me.”
Kasich, who drew moderate applause and some shouts of approval, stressed he has a compassionate approach to conservatism. He said he “got a call” from God to run for governor, and his tenure has focused on “leaving no one behind,” including the mentally ill, developmentally disabled and ex-offenders.
“I actually knew and worked with Ronald Reagan,” Kasich said. “What he taught me is you have to have strength when it comes to our national security, and you have to give people the incentive to work and the opportunity to rise.”
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin drew some snickers and eye-rolls throughout her 19-minute speech in support of Donald Trump. But she did get some applause when she mentioned Hillary Clinton and Benghazi.
After bemoaning “uncontrolled immigration” and the “wrong-headed visa market that has flooded the market with foreign workers,” Palin said Trump has forced other candidates to face immigration issues.
She accused other candidates of “actually asking for more immigrants -- even illegal immigrants -- welcoming them in, even inducing and seducing them with gift baskets … of teddy bears and soccer balls.”
“Actions scream so much louder than a politician’s words,” she said.
On trade, Palin said, “Trump is the only one hot on this because he is the only one who understands the art of asking for the deal.”
Palin made reference to Wisconsin-based Harley-Davidson, saying Reagan “saved the hog” by imposing a 45 percent tariff on Japanese motorcycles.
She said Trump’s positions aren’t radically anti-Republican, but she added, “Politicians have betrayed us over and over and over again – you deserve better.”
Cruz basked in loud and continuous applause when he spoke. He blasted Trump for being “willing to compromise religious liberty” and President Barack Obama for “being unable to tell the difference between our friends and our enemies.”
“For jihadists, January 2017 will bring a day of reckoning,” Cruz said.
He drew his biggest applause when he vowed to “repeal every word of Obamacare,” but the audience hesitated when he promised that young graduates “would get two, three, four, five job offers.”
And the senator continued taking swipes at Trump, saying the businessman as president “would be a train wreck, and that’s actually not fair to train wrecks.” -- By Kay Nolan