Presidential races

Cruz vows to reenergize conservatives

Greg Nash

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) made his first stop in Iowa as a presidential candidate on Wednesday, and argued he’s the Republican best equipped to reenergize the base.

{mosads}On a sweltering day at Morningside College in Sioux City — Cruz removed his jacket at one point and the packed room of conservatives sat fanning themselves – the Texas Republican argued that millions of evangelicals and blue-collar Reagan Democrats have been on the sidelines because they’ve been let down by the GOP.

Cruz said that he’s the candidate that can bring them back into the fold.

“I think the biggest question as we look to 2016 is, how do you bring back the millions of conservatives who have been staying home?” Cruz said. “Looking at the field, there are a lot of good people, but I don’t see a lot folks that are likely to motivate and energize and mobilize the millions of conservatives to come out. I think we’re in the best situation, based on my record, to do that.”

Cruz said that he’s been on the frontlines of every major battle in the Senate. He ticked through his roles in the fights against ObamaCare, raising the debt ceiling and President Obama’s executive actions on immigration, and said he’s been a leading voice on religious liberty and in standing up to the IRS.

“If you look to the field [of possible GOP contenders] on those dozen issues that have been the biggest issues over the last couple of years, on how many of those issues have those individuals stood up and led?” Cruz asked. “Most of them you can find one issue, maybe two. But on the vast majority of the issues, a number of these other folks just haven’t been there.”

A survey from the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling showed Cruz getting a huge boost from his early entrance into the presidential field. Cruz took 16 percent support, good enough for third place.

He trailed only Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, at 20 percent, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, at 17 percent. In the same poll from last month, Cruz was buried in sixth place, pulling only 5 percent support.

Cruz will be running in the socially conservative lane of the Republican primaries, and is expected to compete with Dr. Ben Carson and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee for evangelical voters. Cruz got a big bump in the PPP survey from those who identified as “socially conservative.”

Cruz’s Iowa address on Wednesday focused heavily on issues that are important to social conservatives, and he spoke freely in the language of evangelicals.

Much of the discussion focused on the current backlash against Indiana Gov. Mike Pence for signing into law a religious liberty bill that critics say will provide cover to those who might discriminate against gay people.

Cruz defended the law and blasted liberal opposition to it.

“I commend the state of Indiana for doing the right thing,” Cruz said. “There was a time not too long ago when religious liberty enjoyed bipartisan support, virtual unanimity. What does it say about today’s Democratic Party that standing up for the First Amendment rights of Americans, standing up for the very first liberty protected in the First Amendment, is now viewed as inconsistent with the partisan political objective of the Democratic Party?”

Cruz also highlighted his staunch opposition to gay marriage. He noted that he fought to keep gay marriage out of Texas as solicitor general, said he put forth a constitutional amendment to give states full authority to define marriage as between one man and one woman, and that he would soon release a bill that would strip federal courts of their jurisdiction over the matter.

“Every one of us is concerned about the Supreme Court decision on gay marriage likely coming in June,” Cruz said. “The first thing and most important thing every one of us can do is pray. Lift up in prayer.”

Cruz told the story about how when President Obama announced his support for gay marriage, the pastor of his Southern Baptist church in Houston ditched his planned sermon, and the entire congregation instead spent the morning on their knees in prayer over the direction of the country. 

Tags Ted Cruz
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