Maybe we’ll look back on this event as the official start of the 2016 campaign. From most reports, the atmosphere was charged when Ted Cruz spoke to the faithful at the Reagan Dinner in Iowa and the Texas senator did not disappoint.

Even Politico described the speech as “a stemwinder.”

Sen. Ted Cruz exhorted the party faithful at Iowa’s Reagan Dinner Friday to join a grassroots insurgency against the Washington establishment, in a speech at an event that was part fundraiser and part tea party rally.

Cruz (R-Texas), who has achieved newfound fame since the government shutdown, delivered a stemwinder in which he blamed Senate Republicans for not holding the line against Democrats over defunding Obamacare, bashed the Washington consulting class, Obamacare and the media, and called on attendees to join the movement by signing up for his email list.

“I’m convinced we’re facing a new paradigm in politics,” Cruz, who spoke for 45 minutes without notes or a teleprompter, told the crowd of about 600 people at the Iowa Events Center. “It is the rise of the grass roots … it has official Washington absolutely terrified.”

“This new paradigm has been beta-tested, unlike the Obamacare website,” Cruz said to applause. “It was beta-tested in 1980 with the Reagan Revolution and it pulled this country back form the brink.”

The senator and potential 2016 contender defended his futile battle to defund Obamacare — which led to the two-week-plus government shutdown and damaged the GOP’s already suffering national image — that some in his party’s congressional leadership have since called a tactical blunder.

“One of the things we accomplished in the fight over Obamacare is we elevated the national debate over what a disaster, what a train wreck, how much Obamacare is hurting millions of Americans across this country,” Cruz insisted to the crowd.

House Republicans were “a profile in courage [who] stood strong and listened to the American people,” Cruz said, adding that Democrats who voted to give themselves what he called a special exemption on Obamacare would see that move come back to haunt them in ads in the 2014 midterm.

“We didn’t accomplish our ultimate policy goal in this battle and we didn’t because unfortunately a significant number of senate Republicans chose not to unite and stand side by side with House Republicans,” he said. “Had we stood together I’m.convinced the outcome of this fight could have been be very” different.

Yeah, whatever.

I suppose it’s not really important that Cruz actually believes that Senate Democrats would have agreed to defund Obamacare and the president would have happily signed it if only those mean old establishment Republicans in the Senate had listened to him. What’s important is that millions of Republicans do, which means Cruz is probably now the frontrunner for the nomination in 2016.

Watch the speech in its entirety on the next page.