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Iowa caucus: Ted Cruz echoes Ronald Reagan in victory speech

Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

"Morning is coming," said Ted Cruz as he took the stage in Iowa to declare victory in the 2016 Republican caucus.

He wasn't referring to how long his victory speech went — even though it was so long that by the end no TV network was covering it. It was a deliberate callback to Republican hero Ronald Reagan, whose slogan in 1984, "Morning in America," has become a slogan of a conservative golden age.

Cruz vastly overperformed expectations and out-hustled Donald Trump to win 29 percent of Iowa voters. And while the length of his speech kind of distracted from its content, it was the most focused and impassioned Cruz has sounded on a national stage throughout his campaign.

Cruz does not come off as a happy man on the campaign trail; he comes off as a warrior. His victory speech, which described his state co-chairs (metaphorically) "crawling under broken glass with knives between their teeth," was appropriately martial. But with the support of thousands of Iowa caucus-goers behind him, Cruz sounded commanding rather than petulant.

"Do you want to know what scares the Washington cartel?" Cruz asked the crowd at one point. When they shouted back, "You!" the man who is so despised by the GOP establishment that many of them are backing Donald Trump just to prevent Cruz's nomination demurred.

"Actually, not remotely," Cruz said, not entirely truthfully. "I don't scare them in the tiniest bit. What scares them is you."

Here's a rush transcript of the portion of the speech covered on TV:

Let me first of all say, to God be the glory. Tonight is a victory for the grassroots. Tonight is a victory for courageous conservatives across Iowa, and all across this great nation. Tonight the state of Iowa has spoken. Iowa has sent notice that the Republican nominee for the next president of the United States will not be chosen by the media. Will not be chosen by the Washington establishment. Will not be chosen by the lobbyists. But will be chosen by the most incredible powerful force, where all sovereignty resides in our nation by we the people. The American people. Tonight, thanks to the incredible hard work of everyone gathered here, of courageous conservatives across the state.

To put in perspective, your incredible victory that you have won tonight. That is the most votes ever cast for any Republican primary winner.

Tonight is a victory for millions of Americans, who have shouldered the burden of seven years of Washington deals run amok. Tonight is a victory for every American who's watched in display as career politicians in Washington in both parties refuse to listen and too often fail to keep their commitments to the people. Tonight is a victory for every American who understands that after we survive eight long years of the Obama presidency, that no one personality can right the wrongs done by Washington. The millions who understand that it is a commitment to the constitution to our shared insistence that we rise and return to a higher standard, the very standard that gave birth to the greatest nation that the world has ever known. To the revolutionary understanding that all men and all women are created equal. That our rights do not come from the democratic party or the Republican party or even from the tea party. Our rights come from our creator.

And the federal government's role, the federal government's responsibility is to defend those fundamental rights, to defend us. And while Americans will continue to suffer under a president who has set an agenda who is causing millions to hurt across this country I want to remind you of the promise of scripture. Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. Iowa has proclaimed to the world, morning is coming. Morning is coming. From day one this campaign has been a movement. For millions of Americans to organize, to rally, to come together. Whatever Washington says, they cannot keep the people down, and tonight is a testament to the people's commitments to their yearnings to get back to our core commitments, free market principles. The judeo-christian values that built this great nation. When the Washington lobbyists settled on other lobbyists in this race. When the media in one voice said a conservative cannot win, nationwide over 800,000 contributions poured in to as courageous conservatives said, yes, we can.

800,000 contributions at with an average contribution of $67. That is the power of the grassroots. But it's more than that. It's 12,000 volunteers here in the state of Iowa. It's over 200,000 volunteers all across this great nation. You know, during the course of this campaign people have asked Heidi and me are you tired? And I will admit it is 16, 18 hours a day, 6, 7 days a week. We are not tired at all.

To the contrary, we are inspired by each and every one of you. I leap out of bed every morning amazed that at a time when our country is in crisis, every one of us has the opportunity to stand and lead, that we have been put in a place of leadership. For such a time as this.

I'm inspired by the stories of heroism that I see every day, working men, like Jerry Dunleavy from Columbus, Ohio. Who requested an entire month off his job to come to Iowa to live at camp Cruz and to volunteer full time. When his employer refused to give him time off, Jerry quit his job and came anyway. I love the great state of Iowa.

I'm inspired by people like Elliott gazer and Josh hammer, students at the university of Chicago who spent their winter break at camp Cruz. But they came back this weekend and hit the phones and they hit the pavement, campaigning to students across this country, upon graduation, rather than having mountains of debt will instead have 2, 3, 4, 5 high-paying job offers and a chance at the American dream. I'm inspired by people like Alexandra, a 13-year-old girl from Lubbock, Texas, who, yesterday, at our campaign headquarters made 823 volunteer calls.

That has always been the strength of this campaign. Are the men and women gathered here and courageous conservatives lifting this country up in prayer each and every day. And let me say our leadership team, our Iowa state chairman, Matt Shultz, what an extraordinary job. You have done organizing a grass roots army. Let me say to our Iowa state director, Brian English, what an amazing job Brian has done.

And to our national co-chairmen, Bob Vander Plaats and Steve King, these men have become dear and trusted friends. They are warriors. They are men of principle. They stand and speak the truth. They stand to defend their values and let me tell you, these leaders, day after day, week after week, have been crawling under broken glass with knives between their teeth. I'm grateful for the support the early support of my friends. We're grateful for the over 150 pastors across the state of Iowa who joined our team to energize people of faith. We're grateful to the state senators, to the state representatives, to the volunteer leaders in each of the 99 counties who stood up and said we will be heard and this will be decided by the grass roots. And then, I am so grateful to national leaders, people like Dr. James Dodson. And Tony Perkins. And Phil Robertson. And governor Rick Perry, and Glenn Beck. Leaders who have stood and LED, bringing together conservatives here in Iowa and across the country.

Do you want to know what scares the Washington cartel? Actually, not remotely. I don't scare them in the tiniest bit. What scares them is you. What scares them is that old Reagan coalition is coming back together, of conservatives. We're seeing conservatives and evangelicals and libertarian and Reagan Democrats all coming together as one and that terrifies Washington, DC. And so do the people of Iowa, Heidi and I say thank you for your incredible hospitality, for your love, for welcoming us into your homes, into your living rooms. Thank you for welcoming my father to preach from the pull pits of your churches. And let me say to my parents, mom, thank you. For the incredible, unconditional love that you have given me every day of my life, the knowledge that whatever I might do, whatever I might say that my mother loves me.

To my cousin, Bebe, like a sister to me, we grew up together, I love you, beebs. And to my dad, a man who came from Cuba at age 18 with nothing. With $100 in his under wear, he doesn't carry money in his underwear anymore. A man in prisoned, tortured, who washed dishes making $0.50 an hour, who was R would live the American dream and a man who is today a pastor, traveling the country preaching the gospel.

My dad is 76 years old and has the energy of a teenager and dad you have been my hero my whole life. I love you, daddy. When the sun rises tomorrow, this campaign will take the next step. We will continue to campaign the same way, sitting down, person to person, leader to leader, bfw halls, Dunkin Donuts, returning to the great state of new Hampshire. And let me speak for a minute to the men and women of the state of New Hampshire. 36 years ago, you welcomed to the Granite State a candidate running for president who was also deeply disliked by the Washington establishment and the Washington cartel. A candidate dismissed out right by the media. Some polls had him 15, 20 behind. You refused to let the establishment and media do your thinking for you. You refused to let them tell you how to vote. You wanted a candidate who didn't adopt his position because of the latest opinion polls, but because of a deep and under lying conservative philosophy that grounded him so that he knew exactly what he believed and the principles were that built this great nation. And so tonight I want to say to the people of New Hampshire, thank you for what you did 36 years ago. Thank you for giving America, and the world, and history our 40th president of the united States, Ronald Wilson Reagan. And I ask the people of new Hampshire, and the people of South Carolina, and the people of Nevada, and the people of the super Tuesday states on March 1, to each of you, do not listen to our words. Do not listen to the rhetoric from campaigns, but rather, hold everyone of us accountable, hold me accountable and every other candidate accountable to be a consistent conservative.

If you want a candidate to repeal Obamacare, then support a candidate who has LED the fight to repeal Obamacare. If you want a president to stop amnesty, to secure the borders and keep us safe, then support a candidate who has LED the fight to stop amnesty to secure the borders and to keep us safe. If you want a candidate to support life and marriage and religious liberty, then support a candidate who spent decades of his life fighting to defend life and marriage and religious liberty. If you want a candidate to defend the second amendment right to keep and bear arms, then ask of every candidate where were you in the spring of 2013 when Barack Obama and Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer tried to undermine the second amendment right to keep and bear arms? If you want a candidate who will stand unapologetically with the nation of Israel, then support a candidate who has LED the fight over and over again to stand by our friend and ally, the nation of Israel. And if you want a commander in chief who will fulfill the most solemn obligation of the president to keep this nation safe, then support a candidate who has demonstrated the commitment, the judgment, the experience, the clarity of vision, to identify our enemy, to call it by its name, radical islamic terrorism. And to utterly and completely defeat ISIS. If I am elected president, every militant on the face of the planet know, if you go and join ISIS, if you wage jihad on the United States of America, if you attempt to murder innocent Americans you are signing your death warrant.

And I'll tell you this. If the other states across the country follow the lead of the good men and women of Iowa, and support this campaign, then, I tell you this. This July, in Cleveland, you will hear these words spoken from the podium of the unified Republican convention. Tonight, I want to say to every member of the democratic party, who believes in limited government, in personal opportunity and the united States constitution, and a safe and secure America, come home. To the Reagan Democrats, your party has left you. And the Republican party wants you, we welcome you back.

Because together, this year, Republicans and the Reagan Democrats can send an unmistakable message, the message of a Reagan like landslide that will drive the liberal elite and the Washington cartel into the potomac and out to sea, never to be seen again. Together, we can bring out a new era of economic growth, of military strength, of international security and the future of hope that our children deserve. If we commit to do more than hope, if we aspire to govern by a higher standard that transcends political party and race and gender and income, and to everyone that is tired of a president that divides us daily on racial lines and religious lines, on gender lines, on socioeconomic lines we will have a president that once again seeks to bring us together and unite us on our shared values of who we are as Americans. The most solemn responsibility of the president is to keep this country safe. And we will stop the weakness and april -- do what it takes to defeat them. I give you my solemn promise. We will finally, finally, finally, secure the borders and and sanctuary cities.

And I want to speak for a moment to the soldiers and sailors and airmen and Marines and moms and dads who have a child serving overseas. And husbands and wives wake up wondering if their loved one is still alive, waiting months upon months to get a hug from mommy, a kiss from mommy. The men and women sent into combat with arms tied behind their back with no idea when it will end in January, 17. You will have a commander in chief who finally has your back. And to the police officers, and the firemen, and the first responders, the heroes who rushed in to burning buildings instead of out of burning buildings, the last seven years of having a president, having an attorney general that demonizes you, that vilifies you, that sides with the criminals land looters instead of the brave men and women of law enforcement, that will end on January 20, 2017. So tonight, the state of Iowa, the Democrats here seem to be in a virtual tie. Between one candidate, who admits he's a socialist, and the other candidate who pretends she's not. I wish them both luck.

But I will tell you this, as Margaret Thatcher observed the problem with socialism is that you run out of other people's money. And let me tell you tonight...

At this point, Fox News, the last remaining TV station running Cruz's speech, cut away from it to air the Iowa speech from Bernie Sanders.

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