The Journal Gazette
Friday, April 29, 2016 5:54 pm

Cruz happy that Hoosiers have say in GOP race

Brian Francisco | The Journal Gazette

If Indiana really is his last stand, Ted Cruz is going down guns-a-blazing.

The cowboy-booted Republican presidential candidate ripped into GOP front-runner Donald Trump, Democratic favorite Hillary Clinton, President Barack Obama and other leaders of both political parties during a half-hour speech to nearly 1,000 supporters at Grand Wayne Center on Thursday.

Trump and Clinton "are both Washington insiders, they both believe in big government, they've both gotten rich exploiting the corruption of Washington," said Cruz, a first-term senator from Texas.

"Donald is Washington; Hillary is Washington. It is the corruption that has sold us down the river," Cruz said, predicting a double-digit victory for Clinton in the general election if Trump is the GOP nominee. 

Indiana's primary election on Tuesday has been widely regarded as Cruz's best and likely last hope to prevent Trump from collecting the 1,237 delegates he needs to secure the GOP nomination as the nation's primaries wind down. Trump has 994 delegates to 566 for Cruz and 153 for Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who has more or less suspended his Indiana campaign. 

Hoosier voters will pledge 57 delegates on Tuesday. Aside from California's 172 delegates, it's the largest haul among the 10 remaining GOP primaries.

"Indiana has a national platform and a national megaphone," Cruz said Thursday. "And I could not be happier to have this race decided using the Midwestern common sense, the good judgment of Hoosiers."

He said Indiana primary voters have a choice between Trump's "yelling and screaming and cursing and insults" and Cruz's "positive, optimistic, forward-looking conservative campaign based on real policy solutions to the problems facing this country."

The audience responded by chanting Cruz's last name.

Carly Fiorina, chosen the day before as Cruz's running mate should he win the GOP presidential nomination at the party's national convention in July, spoke before Cruz took the stage. The former Hewlett-Packard chief executive described Trump and Clinton as "two sides of the same coin."

"It's not just that they agree on policies," she said. "You see, Hillary Clinton, like so many politicians, has made her millions by selling access and influence from inside the system, and Donald Trump has made his billions buying people like Hillary Clinton off. They are the system. They will not fight the system, and they will not fight for us."

Fiorina and Cruz took jabs at former Republican House Speaker John Boehner, each noting that Boehner had said Wednesday night that he and Trump are "texting buddies" and play golf together.

Neither she nor Cruz mentioned that Boehner also had referred to Cruz as "Lucifer in the flesh" during his remarks at Stanford University. Boehner reportedly said about Cruz, "I get along with almost everyone, but I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life."

The 965 people who flocked to see Cruz at Grand Wayne Center did not seem to share Boehner's opinion.

"My family is just very impressed with Ted's character and his views and his stances on issues. It's the first time in a long time I've had somebody I was really excited about," Fort Wayne resident Cindy Mossburg said.

Mossburg said she took four of her nine children out of school to attend the rally.

"I feel like this is a part of learning and a part of their education," she said.

Her son Samuel Mossburg, 17, said he likes Cruz because "he is a true conservative."

DeKalb County resident Susan Stombaugh brought eight of her 10 children to the rally. They ranged in age from 7 to 19.

Fort Wayne resident Sam Simpson, accompanied by his 17-year-old son Sam, said he was a Cruz supporter "from the beginning. He is a constitutionalist. And I support the Constitution 100 percent."

Andy Whirrett, a teacher at St. Paul's Lutheran School in Fort Wayne, said Cruz is "pro-life and has all the same values that I have and that we teach and have at our church."

Whirrett took to the rally 25 students who are in his eighth-grade history class. 

"This is just a great opportunity to see the political process," he said. "I tell the kids, 'We're not coming so that you become Ted Cruz fans, we're coming so you can see" the process.

Cruz took notice of the young faces.

"Hillary? Bernie? Take a look at all the young people," he said, referring to the many young adults who attend campaign rallies for Clinton and her rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

During his speech, Cruz vowed to emulate Ronald Reagan and, borrowing a line from the 40th president, called for "morning in America again."

"We're gonna repeal Obamacare, pass a flat tax, pull back the regulators, end amnesty" for undocumented workers, he said.

"The result is going to be millions and millions of new high-paying jobs, manufacturing jobs coming back to Indiana, wages rising across the country. That's gonna generate trillions in new revenue, and we will use that revenue to rebuild our military so it remains the mightiest fighting force on the face of the planet," Cruz said to cheers.

"I will not compromise away your religious liberty," Cruz told the crowd. "And I will not compromise away your Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms."

He said he would "rip to shreds this catastrophic Iranian nuclear deal" and pledged to use "overwhelming" military force against Islamic jihadists.

"If you are attempting to murder innocent Americans, a day of reckoning is coming," he said. "We are coming to get you, and we are not coming to negotiate, we are not coming to arrest you, we are not coming to read you your rights. We are coming to kill you."

Perhaps the most applause Cruz heard was when he said his message to military personnel and first responders is that he would be "a commander in chief who's got your back."

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