IOWA CITY — Just 28 hours before Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses, Republican candidate Ted Cruz on Sunday made a pitch to about 1,000 people at the Johnson County Fairgrounds that America is in crisis.
“We’re here because we’re bankrupting our kids and grandkids, because our constitutional rights are under assault each and every day and because American has receded from leadership in the world, and it’s making the world a much more dangerous place,” the Texas senator said.
“Yet I’m here today with a word of hope and encouragement and exultation. All across the state of Iowa and all across this country, people are waking up. And I’m here to tell you, help is on the way.”
Cruz, who continues to poll second in the state among Republican candidates, touted his commitment to the U.S. Constitution and the Bible throughout his speech Sunday. He vowed to strip power from Washington, D.C., and return it to “we the people” by, in part, rescinding President Barack Obama’s executive actions, launching an investigation into Planned Parenthood, repealing “every word of Obamacare” and ending Common core educational standards.
He also vowed to “rip to shreds” the recent nuclear deal with Iran, move the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, stop the persecution of religious liberty and “finally, finally, finally secure the borders and end sanctuary cities.”
“We will have a commander-in-chief who stands up and says to the world, ‘We will defeat radical Islamic terrorists,’” Cruz said. “We’ll have a president willing to utter the words ‘radical Islamist terrorist.’”
Cruz on Sunday leveled much of his criticism against Obama and the Democratic Party, at one point likening their actions to Communism.
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“Growing up in a Cuban household, there were two parties,” he said. “There were Republicans and the Communists. And I’m not really kidding. Which, actually now that you mention it, ... Looking at the Democratic debates — you have a wild-eyed socialist whose ideas are dangerous for America and the world. And Bernie Sanders.”
Before Cruz took the stage at Sunday’s event — about an hour after it started — several dignitaries and media personalities spoke on his behalf, including conservative radio host Glenn Beck and Phil Robertson of the reality television series “Duck Dynasty.”
Robertson said he backs Cruz largely for the candidate’s religious views, stressing the country’s foundation on Christian principles. He said the country’s culture is collapsing, calling it sickening and repulsive.
“Redefining marriage and telling us that marriage is not between a man and a woman, c’mon, Iowa, it’s nonsense,” he said. “We have to run this bunch out of Washington, D.C., We have to rid the earth of them.”
Beck said he supports Cruz because he grew up, literally, with the constitution and the Bible on his kitchen table. And although Beck said other good people are running for the presidency, he said one “concerns me gravely”
Referring to front-runner Donald Trump’s “make American great again” catch phrase, Beck said, he finds the premise flawed.
“If you look at the transcripts, he says the same thing, ‘I will make America great again,’” Beck said. “No man can do that. It is, ‘We the people.’”
In the latest Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics Iowa Poll, Cruz continues to trail Trump by a 28 percent-to-23 percent margin. A poll average compiled by Real Clear Politics showed Cruz behind Trump with 24 percent to his 30 percent.
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The day before Cruz’s appearance in Iowa City, Secretary of State Paul Pate slammed Cruz’s campaign for a mailer distributed to voters accusing them of “voter violation” for weak past participation, according to media reports.
Cruz didn’t address that controversy during his Sunday event but rather dismissed past “media nonsense” and urged those in attendance to “make the decision for the men and women of Iowa to say we can’t get fooled again.”
“We are 28 hours away from the Iowa caucuses, and it has been a crazy year,” he said. “It’s been a year where you’ve been subjected to millions of attack ads, millions on television, millions on the radio, fliers filling up your mailbox.
“By the way, those fliers make really good kindling,” he said.
Cruz said the stakes are too high to not participate in the caucuses, and he said America’s freedom is at risk.
“When I was a kid, my dad used to say to me over and over again, ‘When we faced oppression in Cuba, I had a place to flee to. If we lose our freedom here, where do we go?’” Cruz said. “That is why all of us are here.”