IOWA CITY — A day before he won the nation’s first caucus by about three percent, Sen. Ted Cruz (R–Texas) made sure Iowan voters knew he was the most conservative presidential candidate at his rally in Iowa City Sunday.
On Sunday, Sen. Cruz’s final appeals aimed to cement the votes of the farthest right-wing constituents — and the final polls showed his effort drew them in, as well as others.
During his remarks, Sen. Cruz urged attendees to each persuade nine other friends to caucus for him, and for those who were too young to vote: persuade 10.
“I’m not suggesting voter fraud,” he said. “If every one of you brings nine other people to the caucus tomorrow night, you will have voted 10 times.”
According to the Associated Press’s poll, Sen. Cruz won the caucuses with 27.7 percent. In second and third place were Donald Trump and Marco Rubio, at 24.4 and 23 percent respectively as of Monday night.
At Sunday’s rally, the focus rested largely on speakers who could speak to Cruz’s conservative credentials, with almost sixty minutes devoted to a range of individuals emphasizing Cruz’s devotion to conservative values and the strength of his conservative convictions. The candidate spoke for about fifteen minutes afterward to close out the rally.
Over the past several years, Iowa’s Republican caucus has trended solidly to the right wing of the party, with Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum winning in the past two elections. Neither succeeded in their push for the GOP’s overall nomination, with Huckabee ending his campaign eight months before the 2008 election and Santorum suspending his campaign seven months before the 2012 election.
Before Cruz took the stage, Sen. Cruz’s wife Heidi Cruz, father Rafael Cruz, U.S. Rep. Steve King (R–Iowa), “Duck Dynasty” star Phil Robertson and conservative TV personality Glenn Beck all praised his dedication to the Constitution and Christianity.
Heidi Cruz urged attendees to consider his consistent conservative ideology when voting.
“I want you to leave today knowing why I fell in love with Ted Cruz, and I want you to leave today having fallen in love with Ted too,” Cruz said.
During his remarks, Robertson said he attended the rally because he fervently believes religious freedoms are at stake in the election. The famed duck hunter faced scrutiny in December 2013 after GQ published an article where he spoke against the LGBTQ community based on his religious principles, which left him briefly banned from the show. Though many found his comments offensive, Robertson emerged as a hero for others who supported his beliefs.
“Do you understand why I vote Godly?” Robertson asked the crowd. “The reason I came is because the political situation in our culture is collapsing around us. In this situation you say: Who has the power to change it? You do. You have the power … I have found out about Ted Cruz; he loves God, and he loves James Madison.”
Robertson said many of the issues affecting the United States stem from the lack of spiritual members within the government.
“God raises these empires up; it is God who brings them down,” Robertson said. “What we have in America is a spiritual problem. You get the spiritual problem of America fixed, and the guys who make the political decisions, they’ll at least be Godly, and God will be on their side.”
He also used his persona to poke fun at Trump, soliciting audience members to help him blow duck calls for him.
“Trump didn’t show up for the debate with our man Cruz last night,” Robertson said. “So let’s try one more time to get Trump. Let’s call Donald Duck to come meet with Cruz.” Glenn Beck, who has never endorsed a political candidate before Sen. Cruz, also offered remarks praising him.
“There’s a lot of really good people who are running, there’s one of which I don’t think is very good,” Beck said, referring to Trump. “I don’t mean that as a joke; I really think that. He concerns me gravely. I look at what he says, and if you look at the transcripts he says the same thing: ‘I will make America great again.’ No man can provide that. It is we the people.”
Beck said he believes the past two decades of presidencies have not positively represented the strong legacy of honored presidents such as George Washington, but believes Sen. Cruz’s dedication to the Constitution makes him the strongest candidate.
“It’s been a rough 20 years in this country,” Beck said. “It has been a time when we have seen some nice highs in the economy, but we haven’t seen highs in our integrity in this country, and in our integrity around the world.”
Following the trend set by the earlier speakers, in his remarks Sunday Sen. Cruz highlighted a list all of the changes he would make on his first day in office.
“The first thing I intend to do (as president) is rescind every single illegal and unconstitutional action taken by President Obama,” Sen. Cruz said.
Additionally, Sen. Cruz said he will launch an investigation into Planned Parenthood, end the persecution of religious liberty, dismantle the Iran nuclear deal and begin the process of moving the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
Sen. Cruz, Heidi Cruz told the crowd, stands apart from the rest of his opponents in terms of both his ideas and his morals and values.
“This is the real deal,” she said. “Ted is a consistent conservative, not a campaign conservative. I knew that from the moment I met him.”