Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) encouraged states to take action against the Iranian deal themselves during his first Alabama campaign stop August 9, which was hosted by the Shelby County Republican Party at the Pelham Civic Complex in Pelham, a suburb of Birmingham.
In the overflow crowd estimated at nearly 900 people, a Birmingham businessman with a dental equipment manufacturing company posed a question regarding the Iran nuclear deal. “Is there any reason the states, where that $150 billion resides, cannot issue sanctions on their own against Iran and seize those funds, and in fact add more sanctions to that process?”
“It is a fantastic question,” replied Cruz, who has argued nine cases before the Supreme Court and if elected would be the only president to have clerked for a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. “I think it is something the states should enact and lead, to do exactly that.”
Cruz acknowledged it is a “close legal question,” but that there is some precedent for such action. “Actually, the seminal case that would support the states doing that is a case called Medellín vs. Texas,” Cruz explained. “I’m kind of a little familiar with that case, because I argued and won the case.”
In Medellín v. Texas (2008), an illegal alien convicted and sentenced to death for his role in the gang rape and murder of two teenage girls in Houston invoked the Vienna Convention and International Court of Justice over Texas law in a post-conviction challenge. The president issued a memorandum insisting on U.S. compliance with “international obligations” pertaining to the case. But the Supreme Court ruled in a 6-3 decision that the president — who at that time was Cruz’s fellow Republican and former boss George W. Bush — has no constitutional authority to make law and give up U.S. sovereignty, and that international law is not in itself binding on domestic law.
“I think states ought to go down that road,” said Cruz. “It will be a fight. It’s not an open and shut legal argument, but we ought to do everything we can to resist this catastrophic Iranian deal.”
The Iranian deal, which is undergoing Congressional review but promised by Obama’s veto power to be in effect, is what convinced Cruz that the Obama administration is inevitably the “leading financier of terrorism.” Cruz’s energetic candor strikes some of his colleagues as over-the-top, but citizen audiences gravitate towards it, including the youth.
“His passion for our country is contagious and he has a heart for people,” said Anna Hill of the Greater Birmingham Teenage Republicans (TARS). Kendyll Covington, a former TARS member who sang the national anthem at the Pelham event, said “he answered questions honestly and with ease, which makes me believe we can actually trust him to keep his promises to our country.”
According to a transcript analysis by The Washington Post, Cruz had one of the shortest speaking times of the 10 candidates who appeared at the widely viewed Republican debate in Cleveland, but that didn’t hinder his message. Cruz now polls second (13%) after Donald Trump (23%) in NBC’s post debate online survey released Sunday morning. Cruz was also very well-received at the RedState Gathering 2015 in Atlanta, GA, where he spent half an hour interacting with the crowd following his speech.
Before heading to his next Cruz Country bus tour stop in Huntsville, the senator reminded his Pelham audience that their state matters in next year’s election, especially because of the primary schedule. Some southeastern states including the Yellowhammer State have moved their primary dates to March 1st in order to command more attention from presidential candidates, a movement by some secretaries of state that’s been dubbed the “SEC Primary.”
“Alabama is going to play a hugely important role in the 2016 presidential election,” said Cruz. “The Republican Party has changed the calendar, so it is now much, much faster.”
Cruz will return to Alabama on August 25 to deliver the keynote address at the Tuscaloosa Republican Party’s annual Lincoln-Reagan Dinner.