Early yesterday afternoon, Ted Cruz followed up his well-received opening speech at CPAC 2014 to meet with several dozen bloggers for a question-and-answer session. Senator Cruz started off by hailing the power of the blogosphere, and then stepped through a number of issues brought up by bloggers in this impromptu session, including school choice, which Cruz seized as a critical issue. “School choice, in my view,” Cruz responded when asked, “is the civil rights issue of the 21st century.”

Easily the most interesting part of the Q&A, though, was his defense of challenging the establishment in a midterm election cycle:

cruz-bloggers from Ed Morrissey on Vimeo.

That part of the interaction starts at 14:30 in the audio above. “There is no doubt we have to win [in the midterms],” Cruz said, “but for Washington, the conventional wisdom is that the way you win is that you stand for nothing. … Every time we follow that strategy, we lose.” Cruz took aim at the consultant class that ended up on the losing end in 2012. “The Republican Party likes to listen to consultants who ran losing presidential campaigns,” Cruz said, “advise the party how to do exactly what they did before, and lose the next one.” No one wants a Republican majority and a Republican President more than Cruz, he assured the bloggers, but in order to get there, the party has to start standing for something rather than acting like wallflowers. “If we don’t turn this country around now,” Cruz warned, “we are approaching the point of no turning back.”

Be sure to listen to it all. I found out about this by accident, although I believe Senator Cruz’ team tried finding the Salem/Townhall contingent earlier. In a sequence that happens more often than you’d think at CPACs, I just happened to be in the right place for the gathering, because I was trying to track down a lost Samsung tablet and couldn’t get past the security checkpoint at first. (I did get it back later, thanks to a good friend’s persistence.) I didn’t have much notice and any time to get back to my equipment, so all I could do was take pictures and record the audio, which I’ve provided in its entirety — except for one final question, because I had to head out to co-host NRA News just a few minutes later.

Cruz clearly knows how to connect to the grassroots, and more than that, knows how to fire them up. Even if one occasionally disagrees on strategy and tactics, there is no doubt that the future of the GOP lies with Cruz and others similarly talented in this generation of Republican lawmakers.

Update: I thought we had posted Cruz’ speech to open CPAC, but a commenter noted its absence here at Hot Air. Let’s fix that now:

His speech came in the morning, when attendance is usually light, but you can hear the enthusiasm of those who attended. It’s a great speech, well worth watching more than once.