Speaking at an America’s Future Foundation dinner, Cruz mentioned that the two politicians in modern times who inspired young people most were Paul and former President Ronald Reagan.
“When you think about the last election cycle, which Republican inspired more young people than anyone else?” Cruz asked the audience. “Ron Paul.”
“The man’s a septuagenarian,” he joked as the crowd laughed. “It’s not like — I love Ron Paul, but he’s not Brad Pitt!”
Cruz stressed that the reason politicians like Reagan and Paul captured the attention of youth was because they stood on principle. He dismissed the idea that Republicans needed to back young candidates in order to appeal to youth, saying instead that conviction and leadership were more important.
“I’ll go to my grave with Ronald Wilson Reagan defining what it means to be President,” Cruz said. “To stand for principle, to do the right thing and to do so in a way that brings people together.”
He said that current young leaders in the Republican party — such as Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) — are “echoing Reagan.” These leaders, Cruz said, are the kind who reach young people with their uplifting, freedom-centered rhetoric.
The Senator also added that utilizing social media — and doing so with strong messaging — is crucial in the modern, technologically-driven age.
“It is a tool, it is a force-multiplier, but you got to have a message to being with,” he said.
But outside social media, Cruz said that the most powerful way to reach out to young people was person-to-person contact.
“Each one of you has the ability to communicate directly and to echo out to others…” he closed. “It matters more than a thousand TV commercials.”
Watch his opening remarks before Q&A below: