WASHINGTON — Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, told an adoring crowd at the Values Voter Summit that he would go to the White House right after his speech to meet with President Obama and fight for them.
And then the White House suddenly came to him, as about a dozen pro-Obama hecklers interrupted his speech Friday morning, in steadily increasing intervals.
But, instead of being thrown off stride by the constant interruptions, the quick-witted Texan found a way to reply to every interruption in a way that elicited a rousing round of applause, and often, laughter.
The hecklers all used the same ploy, standing up and yelling "Senator Cruz!," then launching into long, rambling questions that few in the crowd could understand.
All they knew was the intruders were making it hard to hear the GOP rising star who was clearly the crowd favorite, in a roster of top conservative speakers.
The senator responded to the first outburst by observing,"The nice thing is the left will always tell you who they fear. And they fear you, the American people!"
When the next heckler appeared about a minute later, Cruz mused, "It seems Obama's paid political operatives are out in force. If he wants to get a hundred of his most rabid political operatives in a room, and put us on television, I'll answer their questions as long as he likes.
"In exchange, all I ask, is he take not 100, but 10 of the men and women in this room, and take 30 minutes answering their questions."
The crowd erupted in hoots, hollers and applause.
When yet another heckler interrupted just a few moments later, the senator chuckled and wondered aloud, "Is anybody left at Organizing For America?"
As the audience was still laughing and clapping, Cruz quipped that he guessed it was better that "Obama's staff is here than doing mischief to the country."
At one point, the senator appeared to express amazement at the hecklers' persistence, saying, "What a statement of fear, what a statement of fear. They don't want the truth to be heard."
Then he politely admonished the Obama supporters by first thanking them for their passion, then adding, "But, you should respect the rights of those who are here."
At that point, numerous hecklers suddenly seemed to appear all over the auditorium, yelling all at once. They were all politely escorted to the door by security guards and the interruptions then ceased.
The Texan seemed amused by it all, and made one last observation about the unwelcome guests.
"The nice thing is, the left will always tell you who they fear, and they fear you, the American people."
He added, "It is because of you" the American people are energized and "the Democrats are feeling the heat."
Follow Garth Kant on Twitter @DCgarth