Cruz was the keynote speaker Wednesday at the annual Weyrich Awards dinner and will deliver the closing speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference Saturday.
Offering his take on the less-than-stellar GOP showing in the 2012 elections, Cruz said the first step to winning elections is winning the political argument, Politico reported Wednesday.
"I think 2014 has the potential to be a very, very good year at the ballot box -- but let me tell you right now, the No. 1 way we could screw it up is if Republicans fail to stand for principle," he said.
Conservatives shouldn't need to announce their political believes because "you should bear the stripes from having been in the battle," he said. "This room understands we need our elected leaders to do the same."
To "win the argument" against Democrats, Cruz said, the words "growth" and "opportunity" should be "tattooed on every [Republican's] hand."
If Republicans can stress those two ideas rather than focus on cuts and the negative, they'll be able to convince the American people that the GOP is the party has the best solutions for struggling Americans, Politico reported.
"One of the most painful things about being a conservative is how many elected Republicans do not understand that our policies work -- and they work especially for those struggling to climb the economic ladder," he said. "We're not going to win the argument unless we understand that our ideas work."