Ted Cruz Wants Obama to Focus on Benghazi in State of the Union

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Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas attends a hearing on sequestration effects on military budget and spending before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, November 7, 2013.
National Journal
Michael Catalini
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Michael Catalini
Jan. 22, 2014, 9:52 a.m.

Sen. Ted Cruz is train­ing his rhet­or­ic­al fire on Pres­id­ent Obama’s State of the Uni­on speech.

The Texas Re­pub­lic­an, who at­trac­ted the spot­light in Oc­to­ber with his de­fund-Obama­care cam­paign that led to the shut­down, is plan­ning to spend the days lead­ing up to Tues­day’s speech on five key is­sues for con­ser­vat­ives, Cruz said in a state­ment Wed­nes­day.

“As the pres­id­ent pre­pares his State of the Uni­on ad­dress, he has signaled he has no in­ten­tion of clear­ing the air,” Cruz said. “The lack of ac­count­ab­il­ity in Wash­ing­ton is cre­at­ing a crisis of con­fid­ence in this coun­try.”

Cruz plans to ask Obama to fo­cus on the IRS in­vest­ig­a­tion in­to con­ser­vat­ive groups, Na­tion­al Se­cur­ity Agency sur­veil­lance, the eco­nomy, Benghazi, and Obama­care.

Cruz’s ques­tions to Obama in­dic­ate the pos­sible pres­id­en­tial con­tender’s tack go­ing for­ward. The ap­proach also comes soon after Cruz hired Paul Tell­er, the former top aide to the House Re­pub­lic­an Study Com­mit­tee who was dis­missed amid al­leg­a­tions he shared in­form­a­tion with con­ser­vat­ive out­side groups.

Since Cruz’s au­tumn stand over Obama­care, he has kept a lower pro­file on the Sen­ate floor. Demo­crats blocked a pair of his amend­ments to roll back the law dur­ing the om­ni­bus ap­pro­pri­ations de­bate, but Cruz did not block a deal to move up a vote on the bill. He ul­ti­mately voted against the $1.1 tril­lion spend­ing bill.

The sen­at­or has seen his poll num­bers drop since his overnight floor speech on Obama­care in Septem­ber. In a re­cent NBC News/Mar­ist poll, Cruz’s sup­port among Re­pub­lic­ans and Re­pub­lic­an-lean­ing in­de­pend­ents dropped from 10 per­cent to 5 per­cent, knock­ing him from the list of top-five con­tenders.

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