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PLANO (CBS11) — Texas Sen. Ted Cruz sought to energize the 7,000 Christian conservatives at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano to get out and vote for their values.
“Our constitutional rights are under assault each and every day,” he said.
Cruz is one of six Republican candidates who spoke at the North Texas Presidential Forum Sunday. Speakers included former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum. All of the presidential candidates, Republicans and Democrats, were invited.
Cruz told the crowd despite this country’s weakness under President Barack Obama he remains optimistic. “We are seeing an awakening,” he said. “We are seeing a revival across this nation.”
Boosted by his rising fundraising and polls, Cruz discounted Donald Trump and Ben Carson’s continued popularity.
“At the end of the day, I don’t believe either of them is going to be the nominee,” Cruz said. “I think what primary voters are looking for is a consistent conservative — someone who’s been the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.”
Some political analysts — and even some Republicans at the church — don’t believe Cruz can win in the general election. But first things first, Cruz said, he’s built a strong grassroots campaign in the early primary states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada.
Cruz said he believes he’ll do well in the Texas primary during Super Tuesday, March 1st.
“I’m running to change Washington,” he said.
Cruz recently blasted Republican leaders in Congress, calling them out for talking a good game but not fighting for conservative principles.
CBS11 asked Cruz how he would be able to work with other Republicans he has criticized, who may not like him, if he is elected president. “The model this campaign is following is the model of 1980,” Cruz said.
At the time, Jimmy Carter was the incumbent Democrat, and Ronald Reagan was Republican nominee.
Cruz compared his campaign to Reagan’s. “Washington despised Reagan,” he said. “He took the case to the American people. He built a grassroots movement of millions of men and women that rose up and became the Reagan revolution, and that changed Washington.”
Despite his doubters, Cruz hopes another revolution can change Washington again.
Two of the other candidates addressed reporters following their remarks to potential voters.
“This is no time to bring someone into the role of the presidency who has no experience in effectively governing,” Huckabee, who’s among the bottom tier of candidates in the polls, said.
He insisted he wasn’t referencing the Republicans who’ve never held political office, such as Trump, Carson and Fiorina.
When asked to explain why Trump and Carson are far ahead of everyone else, Huckabee explained, “I think it’s because people are so angry at the government. I get that. I’m angry too. But I have to make people remember that I’ve never had a single paycheck from Washington. I’ve never worked there, and so I don’t think I should be held accountable for the complete disaster that Washington is.”
As for Santorum, he told reporters, “All of these polls, all of these projections are irrelevant.”
He said he had the same low poll numbers when he ran four years ago as he does now, but he surprised almost everyone when he won the Iowa caucus.
Santorum predicted he will repeat history. “If you can exceed expectations [in Iowa] you get your passport stamped and you get to go on in the race,” he said. “That’s what my game plan is.”
Aside from spending time in Iowa, Santorum made it clear he has spent a lot of time in North Texas meeting with small groups of supporters and trying to win over other conservatives.
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