TAMPA — Tea party star and Texas Senate candidate Ted Cruz said Thursday that current campaign finance laws should be scrapped to allow unlimited donations to campaigns.
Cruz, who recently celebrated an upset victory in the GOP primary against establishment-backed Lt. Gov David Dewhurst, said at the POLITICO Playbook Breakfast in Tampa that current rules "exist to protect incumbents."
"That is not an accidental side effect. They were drafted by incumbent elected officials," Cruz told POLITICO. "I believe in free speech. If it were up to me, I would eliminate all the limits and require immediate disclosure."
Cruz — who said contributors should be able to write checks of any amount directly to campaigns — criticized the enormous influence of super PACs.
"What happens now is they (donors) can't write the check to the campaign so they write them to a third party who run ads, and I can't talk to the third party and so this third-party super PAC is running ads supporting me. I have no input in what they say," he said. "It's a ridiculous system."
The Ivy League graduate and once-underdog candidate with limited name identification astonished the nation when he beat party-backed Dewhurst after a last-minute surge. He is widely expected to cruise to victory in the general election against Democratic opponent Paul Sadler.
Cruz, who delivered remarks at the Republican National Convention on Tuesday, attributed his unexpected win to one prominent Republican figure who is not in Tampa this week — former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
Her endorsement, he said, "had an enormous effect. It had a game-changing effect."
"In a Republican primary, everyone claims to be conservative and voters are pretty cynical," he said. "It's very hard to sort out who's telling the truth and who's blowing smoke. And I think conservatives trust Sarah Palin. . . . When she says this guy's a conservative, then he's the real deal."