Ted Cruz’s January 18th town hall definitely lived up to its eye-roll worthy title: “Cruzin’ to Victory Tour – ‘This is The REAL Washington – NOT DC!’ Town Hall Meeting with Ted Cruz.” Held inside the Camp Morgan Lodge in Washington, NH, this Cruz campaign event continues to standout from the many town halls and rallies we have attended in the last two and a half weeks.
The Camp Morgan Lodge is in an isolated area of Washington, a very small town in southern New Hampshire. The lodge is a modest building at the end of a gravel road. However, inside, the set up was far from modest. Spotlights shone on the small stage and the backdrop, which read “TRUSTED” (with emphasis on the “TED”) and the words: “courageous,” “conservative,” and “consistent.” Country music and Bruce Springsteen was playing over loudspeakers and flashy, dramatic videos were playing on two large screens that flanked the stage.
As we waited for the event to begin, members of the media mingled with attendees. We watched a photographer from The New York Times interviewing New Hampshire voters. He was compiling a profile on Independent voters, using a polaroid camera to take their photos. Meanwhile, a group of locals sitting behind us were discussing their preferred candidates. One was confident he would vote for Cruz, mostly because his “website is the most comprehensive.”
At 11:40am, about a dozen members of the media filed into the room and set up their equipment. A Cruz staffer made sure that the aisle we were sitting on was clear. A local politician and a representative of the campaign both gave introductions for the candidate. We stood for the pledge of allegiance and for a prayer for America and its future leaders. Before Cruz entered the room, the promotional video played one last time. Finally, the back door opened and the senator entered the room. Heading our way down the aisle, he shook every hand, even if it was not outstretched to him.
Taking the stage, Cruz asked the cheering audience: “how ’bout them Patriots?” He quickly added that he does not like pandering, however, he does think that Tom Brady was framed. By who? Hillary Clinton, that’s why she deleted her emails! The crowd laughed, but the joke was a very awkward way to start the event. After a few more laugh lines about how happy he was to be in the “real Washington,” Cruz launched into his standard stump, explaining how he wants to bring an “awakening” to this country.
Cruz then talked about his first day in office. Here’s his agenda for Friday, January 20, 2017:
- Rescind all the “illegal” actions taken by President Obama. He explained this goal with a convoluted metaphor about how he “lives by the pen” and “dies by the pen,” but his pen has an eraser (Senator Cruz, may I introduce you to the word “pencil”?).
- Ask the Department of Justice to open an investigation on Planned Parenthood (the audience particularly enjoyed this line).
- Require all branches and departments of the federal government to seek out persecution of religious freedom.
- “Rip to shreds” the nuclear deal with Iran (another big applause line).
- Move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, “the once and eternal capital” of the nation.
“In the days that follow,” Cruz said he would work with Congress to repeal “every word of Obamacare.” He would also end Common Core and federal involvement in education. Cruz argued that the country needs a president who is willing to “utter the words ‘radical, Islamic terrorist.'” He believes that the status quo parallels the end of the Carter administration and the “Reagan Revolution.” According to Cruz, this revolution did not come from Washington, D.C., but rather the American people.
Towards the end of his stump, Cruz pivoted back to the need for an awakening in the United States. He concluded on the importance of American freedom, citing his father’s experience in Cuba. According to Cruz, when his father felt that his freedom was threatened in Cuba, he came to America, which led the candidate to ask: “if Americans lose their freedom, where do we go?”
Cruz then opened the floor up to questions. Of the six that were asked, two focused on religion. The first question was about how he would protect religious liberty in the U.S. and across the world. Cruz took this as an opportunity to discuss the threat of ISIS and how the group’s destruction is the best way to protect American religious freedom. The second question was about what Cruz would do to restore the Ten Commandments in public life. In response, Cruz discussed his record as the Texas solicitor general.
One member of the audience asked Cruz what characteristics he looked for in a running mate. He referred to Cruz as his “brother,” because he believed Cruz had been “saved.” He apologized if such language was inappropriate. Cruz quickly responded by saying one should ever “apologize for their faith.” The candidate then explained that it was too early to talk about vice presidential picks. However, he thinks all of his opponents in the Republican field would be worthy members of any cabinet.
Another question that stood out was asked by a young woman. As a mother, she wanted to know where Cruz stood on paid leave, citing Rubio’s stance on the issue. He quickly shut down the question, explaining that the only way to make some sort of paid leave possible would be to return the United States to a robust economic growth. There is “no doubt we would love to offer paid leave,” explained Cruz, but giving away free things is impractical. In response to a question on the potential for a convention of the states, Cruz, like Rubio, said he would propose two amendments: balanced budget and term limits for Congress and the judiciary.
In his closing remarks, Cruz implored the audience to get involved, volunteer, and, most importantly, pray. He cited one last biblical verse, which a number of audience members knew word for word, and entered the crowd to take pictures with eager supporters.
Throughout the event, Cruz seemed more like a preacher and less like a candidate for president. Judeo-Christian values and religious freedom were prioritized by both the candidate and his audience. Cheers from the crowd were punctuated by “amen” and “God bless.” Compared to Rubio’s event, the audience was older, more white, and more decided. Based on the anecdotal conversations we overheard, many of the attendees were already Cruz supporters, which explains why he connected so well with the audience.
We couldn’t hang around too long because we had to get to Hanover, NH for a 3:30pm Kasich town hall. Read our next post to hear about Kasich’s unique sense of humor and communication “skills.”
- Selfies with the campaign bus (and a signed copy of the Bill of Rights):
- Miles on the road: 107
- Yard signs:
- 3 John Kasich
- 3 Hillary Clinton
- 3 Ted Cruz
- 5 Donald Trump
- 6 Carly Fiorina
- 14 Bernie Sanders