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Mackinac Island — Republican presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz said Saturday he would use his first days in the Oval Office to rescind "every single illegal and unconstitutional action" taken by the Obama administration, followed by an investigation into Planned Parenthood and a ripping up of the "catastrophic" Iran nuclear deal.

"We need to take the power out of Washington and back to 'we the people,'" Cruz said at a lunchtime speech here. "That is what this campaign is all about."

Cruz was the second GOP presidential hopeful to address the Michigan Republican Party’s biennial leadership conference of more than 2,200 party leaders, donors and activists gathered this weekend at the Grand Hotel.

“Our country is in crisis,” Cruz said. “Our constitutional rights are under assault from Washington, and America has receded from leadership in the world, and it’s made the world a much more dangerous place.”

However, Cruz said he’s met Americans all over the nation while campaigning who are saying,"'This doesn’t make any sense.' And I’m telling you, right now, help is on the way.”

Cruz touched on key elements of his campaign, including a proposal for a flat tax, repealing the 2010 Affordable Care Act that's been nicknamed Obamacare, defending states' rights, and safeguarding religious liberty. He also highlighted his proposals to eliminate the voluntary Common Core from school curricula and protect service members' right to bear arms on military bases.

Cruz repeated his promise to shutter the Internal Revenue Service, "padlock that building" and relocate the agency's 90,000 employees to the Southern border with Mexico.

"To our friends in the media, I say that somewhat tongue in cheek," Cruz said. "But, if you think about it, imagine you travel thousands of miles in the sun, you’re swimming across the Rio Grande, and you look up and see 90,000 IRS agents. You’d turn around and go home, too!"

He got personal with stories about each of his parents. His mother was the first in her family to go to college, later getting a job as a computer programmer. She told her son that she intentionally never learned to type, so no man could stop her in the hall and ask her to type something for him.

Cruz's father, now a pastor, fought in the Cuban revolution at age 14, was tortured in prison, later escaping to the United States in the late 1950s. The elder Cruz campaigned for his son in Michigan in August.

Earlier Saturday, Cruz addressed more than 200 supporters and students at the Mackinac Island Public School, telling them it’s a “now or never” time in politics. He spoke for about 30 minutes, and frequently had the crowd on their feet cheering and clapping.

Don Braymer of Schoolcraft Township near Kalamazoo said he's been most impressed by Cruz's refusal to back down in Congress, referencing Cruz's marathon 21-hour speech in 2013 attacking President Barack Obama's health care law.

"We know courage when we see it," Braymer said. "What he says he'd do, is what he did. ... And the first thing he talked about was the economy -- you can't be militarily strong and economically weak."

Phil Tripp, who is running for the state House in the 64th District, appreciates that Cruz has refused to be negative about fellow Republican candidates in the race, and because he's risked his career by standing up for the principles he believes in.

"He's got to ignite the people," Tripp said. "He's been low in the polls, but it's early."

Cruz said his campaign raised the most hard money -- $14.3 million -- in the field in three months ending June 30. "That is the power of the grassroots," he said.

Cruz last campaigned in Michigan in early June in Howell, and immediately had to apologize for telling a joke at the Livingston County Republican dinner about Vice President Joe Biden, less than a week after Biden had lost his eldest son to brain cancer.

mburke@detroitnews.com

(202) 662-8736

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