Thursday, April 2, 2015

Ted Cruz gets warm welcome in first Iowa visit as candidate-Des Moines Register

4/1/15, "Cruz gets warm welcome in first Iowa visit as candidate," Des Moines Register, Matthew Patane, Jennifer Jacobs, Durango, Iowa
Ted Cruz in Iowa, Des Moines Register

"In Sioux City

SETTING: An auditorium at Morningside College, the private college connected to the United Methodist Church in Sioux City.

CROWD: About 300. The crowd filled a 160-seat auditorium to standing-room-only status along with three overflow rooms.

REACTION: Raucous and well-received. Cruz received numerous rounds of applause, especially when stating his opinions on gay marriage and repealing federal laws like Common Core and Obamacare.

WHAT'S NEXT: On Thursday, Cruz will travel to Cedar Falls, Cedar Rapids and Des Moines before heading to South Carolina....

At his big debut in Iowa as a bona fide presidential candidate, Texas U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz said Wednesday he aims to win over big slices of the GOP as well as conservative Democrats, even as he zeroed in on some controversial social issues, demanded reforms he says some view as "radical," and criticized some of his fellow Republicans as weak-willed.  

One uniting issue, he told Iowans, is the right to exercise religious freedom.

"Religious liberty is not some fringe view," Cruz, currently the only declared candidate for president, said to about 300 people in Sioux City, the first stop on a two-day tour. "Sadly, a whole lot of Republicans are terrified of this issue."

Cruz had strong words for business leaders who haven't defended religious freedom laws like the one in Indiana, which has sparked a firestorm of debate.

"The Fortune 500 is running shamelessly to endorse the radical gay marriage agenda over religious liberty to say: 'We will persecute a Christian pastor, a Catholic priest, a Jewish rabbi,' " he said. "Any person of faith is subject to persecution if they dare disagree, if their religious faith parts way from their political commitment to gay marriage."

Cruz on Wednesday began to make a case for why he's capable of being commander in chief — and started the hard work campaigning Iowa-style, which requires not only provocative speeches but also the one-on-one work of answering activists' questions over and over in cafes and back rooms.

And he looked ahead to the general election, saying he's aware he needs to broaden his appeal.

"There are a lot of candidates in this race, potentially, who appeal to one slice, or another slice, but we've got to get a big enough team to get the 51 percent," he said at a town-hall-style event at Morningside College that drew about 300 people, filling up an auditorium and three overflow rooms.

Cruz began to lay out his campaign platform, saying he wants to "repeal every word of Common Core," abolish the IRS, repeal the entire Affordable Care Act, protect every right outlined in the U.S. Constitution — including gun rights and freedom of speech — and move the nation to "a simple flat tax."

"Under the ordinary views of Washington, those are viewed as radical, extreme and impossible. The only way to get that done is to change the rules of Washington," he said in Sioux City.

In Dubuque County, he said it's the media that calls those same ideas radical.

"But I've got to tell you, those are the values of the America people," he told about 150 people at Park Farm Winery in rural Bankston.

Cruz said "an awful lot of Republicans" have given up on ever repealing Obamacare.

"They're going to campaign on it, but they don't actually believe it will ever go away," he said. "In Washington, D.C., telling the truth and doing what you said you would do are radical acts."

Several Iowans said they were drawn to Cruz because he doesn't back down from his views, including two Morningside College students, Valente Romo and Austin Johnson, both juniors studying business.

Johnson said: "I think he really stands by the points that he makes and is very confident in what he says. His willingness to take on change is something that I do like."

Others like Cruz's faith.

"We need help spiritually," said Cheryl Zabel, a 62-year-old certified medicine aide. "We won't make it without that."

As Cruz's two-day trip continues, GOP strategists and activists said they'll be watching to see whether he can walk a fine line — appeal to the most traditional Iowa conservatives without saying anything that hurts his credibility.

"The challenge for Cruz will be building his brand in Iowa as a serious candidate and not the caricatured firebrand that national media outlets like to paint of him," said Gabe Haugland, a member of the Republican Party of Iowa state central committee who will remain uncommitted throughout the race for the first-in-the-nation caucuses.

The place Cruz chose to launch his battle in Iowa was telling: Sioux City and the Iowa 4th Congressional District. He will venture Thursday to areas with more independent voters and more center-right Republicans — the Waterloo-Cedar Falls area, Cedar Rapids and Des Moines — but he posted his first flag in Steve King territory, where conservative activists needed to pack a campaign event are bountiful.

"I know he's really popular in this part of the state," said Monona County GOP Chairwoman Tammy Bramley told the Register. "It's his social issues and the fact there's a lot of tea partiers over here."

Bramley said Cruz's first-in-the-field entry into the race gives Iowans a chance to get to know him longer.

"I think everyone has in mind who they want, or who they want them to be," she said, "but I don't think there's there's 10 percent" who feel committed at this point.

Pottawattamie County GOP activist Naomi Leinen predicted that Cruz could be victorious in the GOP caucuses 10 months from now, by claiming support at the expense of two past winners of the Iowa caucuses, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Pennsylvania U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, as well as Kentucky U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, the most obvious standard bearer of the liberty movement created during his father's past campaigns.

"Evangelical Christians are split between Santorum and Huckabee," said Leinen, who is herself leaning toward former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Cruz or Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. "... Rand Paul implodes because of a national security issue against the nation. These things factor into an Iowa win for Cruz."

But other Republicans said it won't be easy for Cruz to persuade religious conservatives to dump Huckabee and Santorum, for loyal liberty conservatives to abandon Paul, or for conservatives who crave for an entirely new kind of candidate to turn away from possible contenders like Ben Carson, a conservative book author and retired surgeon. And some said they think Cruz's main pitch — that he's the one who has stood up and fought for conservatives — raises doubts. It puts the ball on the tee for a governor like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker or Perry to show they not only fought, but won, they said."...via Free Republic


No comments: