Undeterred by calls from many of his fellow GOP senators to stop his threats to shutdown the government over Obamacare, Sen. Ted Cruz sought to ignite a movement in that direction Tuesday night when he urged conservative supporters at a town hall meeting to stand firm.
"You're here because now is the single best time we have to defund Obamacare," Cruz told a packed ballroom at the Hilton Anatole hotel in Dallas, adding, "This is a fight we can win."
The event was part of a cross-country "Defund Obamacare" tour, co-sponsored by the Heritage Foundation and its political arm, Heritage Action for America, which kicked off Monday in Fayetteville, Ark. and will make stops in nine cities.
Cruz has been leading a tea party effort to push Congress to strip funding for Obamacare from the continuing resolution that would finance the government after Sept. 30.
He said he plans to call on House members to approve "every penny of the federal government, everything in its entirety, except Obamacare" before a sending stopgap spending measure on to the Senate for approval.
During his 24-minute speech, Cruz called the Affordable Care Act "the number one job killer in America" as he urged his conservative followers not to blink in the face of pressure to back off the move to defund the health reform law.
"We're seeing the rise of the grass roots. It's why I'm spending every day until September 30 working to help energize grass roots activists," he said.
Cruz was interrupted several times during his speech by angry protesters, who challenged his call for defunding Obamacare. He asked them to be quiet and said he would be happy to "visit" with them later.
He closed his remarks by mimicking Obama's signature "Yes we can" campaign refrain, asking, "Can we stop the I.R.S.? Can we mobilize grass-roots America? And can we defund Obamacare?"
After the estimated crowd of 1,000 supporters yelled, "Yes, we can," Cruz said, "That, my friends is change we can believe in."
Not all Republicans agree, however, in Cruz' formula for change. Nicolle Wallace, former White House communications director under President George W. Bush, challenged Cruz on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program Wednesday.
"The problem with what Ted Cruz is doing, it's intellectually dishonest," she said.
"Ted Cruz is doing a whole lot of fear mongering and he's lying to the voters and presenting an untruthful case. The reason we're going to lose this debate about defunding Obamacare is because we don't occupy the White House. We don't have the ability to pass laws and then sign them," she added.
She also said Cruz was dishonest when he was asked at the Dallas town hall why Republicans don't move to impeach President Barack Obama. Cruz answered there aren't enough votes to get it done.
"The true answer, the intellectually honest answer is because he has not committed an impeachable offense," Wallace said.
Cruz's fight against Obamacare has caused a major rift within the party. While many GOP lawmakers want it repealed, they do not believe it should be tied to funding the federal government.
Related: GOP Rift Grows Over Obamacare Funding
As for the looming controversy over Cruz' birthplace and eligibility to run for president, Cruz was forced to address it again this week after a report in The Dallas Morning News
on Monday stated that because he was born in Calgary, Alberta, he held both Canadian and American citizenship.
He told reporters before Tuesday's rally that he had "been an American since birth" and referred to questions about his eligibility as part of the "silly season in politics." His response only increased speculation that he is preparing a bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.
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