8/9/15, "Surging in poll, Ted Cruz brings presidential campaign to Huntsville," Alabama.com, Paul Gattis
"Greeted by a crowd exceeding expectations in Huntsville, Republican presidential hopeful Ted Cruz rolled into the Rocket City on Sunday evening as an apparent candidate on the rise.
In an NBC News post-debate poll released Sunday, Cruz rose to No. 2 among the 17 GOP candidates
– an indication, the junior senator from Texas said, that his campaign is resonating with voters.
"God bless the great state of Alabama," Cruz said in greeting a crowd estimated by local Republican officials as more than 1,000 in the Jackson Center in Cummings Research Park. "Holy cow! I think we've got the whole state of Alabama in here." Indeed, all but a handful of chairs were removed from the ballroom where Cruz spoke to accommodate the crowd – the vast majority of which stood for the hour that Cruz spoke and took questions from the audience.
Cruz made stops in Pelham and Birmingham earlier Sunday as part of a Deep South swing that will take him on Monday to four stops in Tennessee followed by speeches in Mississippi, Arkansas and Oklahoma by week's end.
U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, introduced Cruz and told the audience that the Cruz campaign was hoping for about 400 to 500 people to attend the rally. Instead, Brooks said the campaign received more than 1,400 RSVPs.
The crowd snacked on campaign-provided ice cream before the speech, then squeezed into the ballroom waving signs and cheering virtually every statement Cruz made.
He reiterated staples of recent campaign speeches – outlining his plan for his first day as president by, among other things, undoing all "illegal executive orders" by President Obama, calling for an investigation into Planned Parenthood and dismantling the IRS.
Cruz touted his fundraising as well, saying that at $14 million, he raised more than any other GOP candidate in the last quarter.
He also took shots at Democrats Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, joking about the planned Democratic debate that hasn't happened yet. "The invitation was emailed to Hillary," Cruz said. A chorus of laughter followed.
Online, our fundraising exploded after the debate.
His voice then became drowned out as cheers and applause came as the response.
The NBC News poll released Sunday gave at least a snapshot of growing support for Cruz in wake of Thursday's GOP debate in Cleveland.
According to the poll, Donald Trump remains the frontrunner with 23 percent of Republican voters giving him their support. Cruz was second with 13 percent – rising from the crowded GOP field with the Republican National Convention 11 months away.
Ben Carson was third with 11 percent, followed by Carly Fiorina and Marco Rubio with 8 percent each.
Cruz also had the largest percentage jump from last week at 7 percent, according to the poll.
"We're certainly encouraged by NBC's new polling numbers," Cruz said when asked by AL.com for his reaction to the poll before his speech. "That surge is, I think, the result of men and women across this country who are looking for a strong, proven, consistent conservative. Online, our fundraising exploded after the debate. We saw people all over the country going to TedCruz.org contributing online.
"It's been amazing in just over four months, we've had over 225,000 contributions (at the website). It's been from all 50 states, all five territories. Our average contribution has been $68. We have contributors in 48.1 of the ZIP codes in America have one or more contributors to our campaign. The strength of this campaign is that it comes from the grassroots. It comes from the people. That's what this campaign is. I could not be more encouraged."" via Free Rep.
Above images of Ted Cruz in Huntsville, Alabama, 8/9/15, by Bob Gathany/bgathany@AL.com