Republican Ted Cruz is back in New Hampshire for a two-day campaign visit. It’s the first time in months the Texas Senator has brought his presidential campaign back to the state. But Cruz is confident voters here will like what they see.
At a town hall meeting Sunday afternoon Cruz told a crowd at New Boston Central School he’d be a different kind of Republican president if elected. By way of example, here’s how he described the to-do list for his first day in office, vowing to “rescind every single illegal and unconstitutional executive action," "open an investigation into Planned Parenthood and these horrible videos" and "rip to shreds this catastrophic Iranian nuclear deal." He added he would tell federal agencies “the persecution of religious liberty ends today!”
And, Cruz says, that would be just day one of an administration that would stand for conservative principles without compromise, and one that wouldn’t shy away from controversy.
It was perhaps telling that the man who introduced Cruz at the town hall meeting was himself no stranger to this approach: former New Hampshire House Speaker Bill O’Brien, who pushed hard for fiscally and socially conservative measures while Speaker, and earned a reputation for using tough tactics to move that agenda forward. O’Brien noted with a laugh a recent report about Cruz’s somewhat contentious relationship with the Speaker of the US House. “You know," O'Brien said, "we have a man here today that John Boehner called a jackass."
O’Brien went on to describe Cruz as a truth-teller who wouldn’t be cowed even by the leaders of his own party. “Nearly alone," he said, "he stood in a Senate debate for almost a day, 21 hours, on our behalf, so that the nation would know about and have an opportunity to avoid the failure of Obamacare. In Congress, he has led or been among the conservatives who have led on the great issues of our day.”
Cruz returned to this point himself when an audience member asked he would distinguish himself from the rest of GOP field. Cruz said if voters looked back at the big debates of the last few years, they’d find only he had been involved in every single one - and that, in each, he'd invariably aligned himself with what he considered the true conservative position. He asked voters to consider these questions in relation to the candidates: “Where have you been in the fight to stop Common Core, and did you used to support Common Core and only discovered you opposed it the day you announced for president? If you say you support marriage, what did you do when the Supreme Court issued a fundamentally illegitimate, unconstitutional and lawless decision? If you say you support life, what are you doing right now to urge Congressional leadership – no showboats, no empty votes – [to] actually defund Planned Parenthood now?”
Responses like these repeatedly brought the crowd of roughly 200 people to its feet. But there were a number of empty seats in the school gym as well. Cruz has campaigned more heavily in more socially conservative states such as Iowa and South Carolina; this was his first New Hampshire visit since late May.
Cruz says going forward his campaign will be “all in” when it comes to New Hampshire. On Monday he’ll open a field office in Manchester. A bigger presence in the state might help win over voters like Kevin Gagnon of Salem. The electrician and father of two said he’s not ready to choose a candidate yet, but liked what he heard from Cruz. “He seems like he could be the real deal," Gagnon said, "like a genuine person that’s willing to go to bat for the American people, not just the Republican establishment but for all people.”
People looking to see Cruz for themselves in New Hampshire will have several more opportunities today, as the Texas Senator holds a town hall meeting in Milford and takes part in a business roundtable in Concord.