Tea Party darling and presidential candidate Ted Cruz just spoke before a room full of Wall Streeters at CNBC’s Delivering Alpha Conference, and it was awkward.
For one thing, Cruz accused big Wall Street banks of helping to write Dodd-Frank financial regulation to drive smaller banks out of business and “killed hundreds and even thousands of small financial institutions.”
See what we mean?
There were a couple more issues on which Cruz likely clashed with the men and women listening in the auditorium of the Pierre Hotel in New York City, and moderator John Harwood had no problem pulling them out.
Neither did Cruz.
Cruz maintained that Wall Street didn’t deserve a financial crisis bailout; poo-poo’d the notion that allowing the Export-Import bank to expire would make the United States less competitive in global trade; and reminded everyone in the room that he spooked the stock market and US creditors with his effort to stop the government from raising the debt ceiling years ago.
“There is a tendency in Washington to support giant corporations,” he said, adding that “the Democratic party is the party of the rich, big government and cronyism.”
The wealthy Republicans in the room may or may not have appreciated that comment.
“The reality is, big business does great with big government,” he said.
In his effort to take a stand in Washington, Cruz has ruffled feathers in his own party and across the aisle. Harwood asked Cruz how he expected to get anything done if legislators didn’t want to work with him constructively.
Cruz countered that he’d never insulted any of his peers. Never yelled at them either.
The conversation got a noticeably testy after Hardwood said they needed to get to the lightening round and ask more questions because Cruz had talked so much.
The first lightening question? Harwood told Cruz that he was known for starting big fights in Washington but that he wasn’t really known for winning them. He asked Cruz for some examples of fights he’d won.
Another tough question — “Jeb Bush’s center of fund raising is Goldman Sachs, where your wife works,” Harwood pointed out.
“How’s that feel?”
Cruz conceded that most of Wall Street was split between candidates Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush, then quickly went into a rant about income inequality.
“But you should be wired at Goldman Sachs,” the moderator interrupted.
Cruz went on speaking about his father and mother’s working class roots, plugged his book, and then told the crowd “if you want the status quo those two candidates are the the status quo.”
Cruz said he, on the other hand, was the candidate of change.
That’s definitely a fact.
What’s unclear is whether or not it’s a change Wall Street would want to see.