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Jeff Woo/DRC

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz tours Denton's Peterbilt plant

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, made a stop in Denton on Tuesday to tour the Peterbilt plant where the signature trucks are made and assembled.

Cruz's office scheduled the visit as part of an ongoing effort to familiarize Cruz with different businesses and sectors of the economy across the state.

"I think the biggest thing they want is government to stay out of their way," Cruz said, referring to the truck manufacturer. "Let them do their job. ... Between taxes and regulations, it makes it a lot more expensive to do business."

Led by Ron Augustyn, the plant manager, Cruz and staff members toured the facility before heading to lunch at the campus cafeteria. All in all, Cruz spent about four and a half hours at Peterbilt, Augustyn said.

"He was focused on learning about Peterbilt as a business and PACCAR, our parent company in Seattle," Augustyn said. "He's interested in knowing how government can better work with business and vice versa, how business can better work with government. He certainly is focused on regulation reform."

Although they didn't get into specifics, Cruz did want to know what regulations and red tape at the federal level impact the company's business and what they'd like to see scaled back or removed.

As they winded through the plant, employees could see where they had an opportunity to take photos with Cruz and shake his hand, Augustyn said.

They've known about the visit for about two weeks, and even arranged for him to drive a brand-new truck out of the plant and onto the test track. In a bright red Model 579, Peterbilt's signature truck model, he honked the horn and got out of the truck to complete the tour.

"This is a very impressive operation," Cruz said. "They're turning out 122 trucks a day -- next week they'll take that up to 126 trucks a day -- and this is a precision operation. It's a sign of why so many companies are coming to Texas."

Cruz is up for re-election in November 2018, and Beto O'Rourke, a Democrat from El Paso, has announced his intention to run against Cruz for the U.S. Senate seat.

While Cruz was inside, about a dozen protesters from Indivisible Denton stood near the gates holding signs asking Cruz to support the release of President Donald Trump's tax returns. Indivisible Denton is a political activism group that holds events and protests in reaction to Trump's presidency.

Featured image: U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, hops out of a truck to talk to the press during his tour Tuesday of the Peterbilt Motors Co. manufacturing plant in Denton.

DRC/Jeff Woo