The community center in Wilton was standing room only, filled with about 800 Iowans eager to hear Ted Cruz speak. Most of those there had driven from outside the rural town of 3,000 to attend the event.
The Cruz Campaign produced a polished series of speakers that each echoed the core tenants of Cruz’s message – disdain for President Obama and Hillary Clinton, antipathy toward big government, and love for God and family.
Matt Shultz, the former Iowa secretary of state, opened the event with a strong endorsement of Senator Cruz. He passionately described that we should to put God back in government and needed a president who would stand up to the establishment.
Heidi Cruz, Senator Cruz’s wife, spoke after Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley and recounted stories from their family life. Appearing to counter the narrative that Senator Cruz is a firebrand with few friends from his college years or time in Washington, Mrs. Cruz emphasized that he was easygoing at home and “easy to get along with.” She described him as a movie buff and board game enthusiast with modest tastes – one of their favorite dates is going to a movie theater and sharing a bag of buttered popcorn.
After she announced her husband, Senator Cruz continued the emphasis on his family life, describing his love and admiration for his wife – her only flaw was her bad eyesight, a joke about his own appearance that fell flat on the audience.
His well-practiced stump speech was a litany of conservative talking points, opening with attacks on Obama and Clinton and continuing with a list of his plans if he were elected. Early in the speech he told a joke about the day President Obama’s term would expire, stating, “The date is January 20, 2017. A little old man walks up to the Marine guarding the front gate at the White House. He says, ‘Excuse me sir, is Barack Obama here?’ The Marine says, ‘No, I’m sorry, Barack Obama is no longer president of the United States.’
“The next day, same little old man, same Marine, he says, ‘Excuse me, is Barack Obama there?’ The Marine sighs, a little bit frustrated, and says, ‘No. Barack Obama is no longer president of the United States.’
“The next day, January 22nd. The same little old man, same Marine, same question. This time, the Marine is visibly frustrated. He sighs and says, ‘Sir! I told you three days in a row. Barack Obama is no longer president of the United States.’
“The little old man smiles and, with a twinkle in his eye, says, ‘I know that, I just love hearing you say it!’ And with that, the Marine promptly salutes and says, ‘See you tomorrow, sir!’”
Cruz continued that he would “rescind President Obama’s illegal executive actions,” direct the Department of Justice to investigate Planned Parenthood, “rip to shreds” the Iranian nuclear deal, and move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem all on his first day in office. In the days that followed, he explained, he would repeal Obamacare, institute a flat tax, and take on the EPA and the “alphabet soup of government organizations that descend on locusts on farmers and kill jobs.”
To the apparent surprise of the crowd, Senator Cruz took a few questions from the audience after his speech. He explained his support for a constitutional amendment that would mandate term limits for members of congress and Supreme Court Justices, and also endorsed a balanced budget amendment. In response to a question about whom he would appoint to the Supreme Court, he said he would only select true conservatives and warned that we are only one liberal justice away from legalizing “abortion on demand.”
As Cruz ended the period of questions and began to conclude the rally, an elderly man sitting near the stage interrupted and shouted a question. Cruz repeated back to the crowd, “Alright so the final question was, am I ready to throw away President Obama’s teleprompter?” Prompting the crowd to erupt in laughter, Cruz quickly responded, “You know, thankfully I won’t need to because he takes it with him wherever he goes.”