By Ben Kamisar
Sen. Ted CruzTed CruzWhy is Donald Trump rocking his uneasy base? Michele Bachmann: God picked Trump to be the GOP nominee Trump at immigration crossroads MORE (R-Texas) will headline the South Carolina Tea Party Coalition Convention this month, joining a pair of other potential presidential candidate also weighing bids to enter the 2016 field.
Cruz is listed as the “featured speaker” on the group’s website. The roster of speakers also includes former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), who ran for president in 2012, and Ben Carson, the Tea Party favorite and former neurosurgeon who’s debating entering the fray.
“I think true conservatives like Senator Cruz are very astute in reaching out to the grassroots at this early stage,” he said.
“These are the people who will control the ground game before the all important South Carolina GOP Presidential primary. These are the people who will knock on the doors, and man the phone banks with a zeal and persistence that Establishment big money cannot buy.”
Whether by causation or correlation, the winner of the South Carolina primary has gone on to secure the Republican nomination in every year except 2012, when former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) won. The primary, which began in 1980, is typically an important early momentum-builder for presidential candidates.
Cruz, Santorum and Carson are all popular presidential picks for the Tea Party and staunch conservative Republicans. Cruz and Carson placed fifth and sixth respectively in an ABC News/Washington Post poll of Republican leaning voters from December. Santorum finished 14th.
The freshman Texas senator won the Value Voters Summit’s presidential straw poll in September, and Carson won the Conservative Political Action Committee poll in August.
Reps. Jim BridenstineJim BridenstineLawmakers turned over gifts after secretly funded trip to Azerbaijan Republicans blast Pentagon energy programs Louie Gohmert faces his biggest challenge MORE (R-Okla.) and Louie GohmertLouie GohmertGOP rep: Trump ‘courageous’ for giving Cruz speech GOP bill would block undocumenteds from military service GOP rep Gohmert: Obama has ‘divided us more than ever’ MORE (R-Texas) will also speak at the Jan. 18 event.