(WASHINGTON) — Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said he’s willing to embrace the “wacko bird” label given to him by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., if it means he is defending the Constitution.
“If standing for liberty and standing for the Constitution makes you a wacko bird, then count me a proud wacko bird,” Cruz said as he delivered the keynote address Saturday at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Md.
In an interview with the Huffington Post earlier this month, McCain singled out Cruz, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., as “wacko birds” when asked whether he felt they are a “positive force” within the Republican Party.
“They were elected, nobody believes that there was a corrupt election, anything else,” McCain said. “But I also think that when, you know, it’s always the wacko birds on right and left that get the media megaphone.
“I think it can be harmful if there is a belief among the American people that those people are reflective of the views of the majority of Republicans. They’re not,” he said. McCain apologized for the remark Friday in an interview with Fox News.
As he closed out the three-day conservative convention, Cruz took pride in joining Paul’s 13-hour filibuster over the nomination of John Brennan to be director of the CIA, and without naming names, he criticized the senators who refrained from participating in the filibuster.
“There were more than a few senators who were not there with us that have had their manhood cheapened as a result,” Cruz said.
The filibuster marked Cruz’s first time speaking on the floor of the Senate, a moment to which Cruz said, “to my grave, I will owe Rand Paul a debt of gratitude.”
Even though the Republican Party experienced a loss in the presidential election last November, Cruz argued that it’s the conservative movement that’s heading towards success.
“For the last three weeks, conservatives have been winning, and we’re winning because of you,” Cruz said.
Cruz, who is in his first term as a senator, tied for seventh place in the CPAC straw poll with Dr. Ben Carson, a neurosurgeon, at 4 percent. Paul narrowly won the straw poll. Cruz’s keynote address occurred after straw poll balloting concluded.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Joshua Berlinger, CNN
Brian Stelter, CNN Money