CONCORD, N.H. — US Senator Ted Cruz wrapped up a two-day New Hampshire trip for his presidential campaign, arguing that he is the proven antiestablishment candidate in a crowded field of GOP contenders.
Speaking to the New Hampshire House Business Caucus at a sports bar, Cruz told a crowd of about 150, “If you see a candidate that Washington embraces, run and hide.” There are others in the race, the Texan said, who are “squishy Washington establishment moderates, but they don’t tell you that.”
Recent polling of the presidential race shows that Republican primary voters are embracing candidates who appear to challenge the party’s long-time lawmakers and politicians. For example, on Sunday and Monday, two separate surveys showed political newcomers Donald Trump and Ben Carson leading the GOP field in the Iowa Caucuses.
During Cruz’s trip to the Granite State, he visited a lobster pound, attended house parties, and opened his state headquarters in Manchester. It was his first trip to New Hampshire since late May. Instead, Cruz has spent much of his campaign time in Iowa and South Carolina, where there is a stronger evangelical community — a group he frequently courts for its reliable votes in those states.
If he were elected president, Cruz said he would focus on the economy, protect constitutional rights, and “restore America to greatness” with a strong foreign policy.
In a crowded field of 17 Republican presidential campaigns, Cruz led the pack in terms of fund-raising directly to his campaign. (A super PAC for former Florida governor Jeb Bush raised much more.)
While Cruz raised money and opened offices throughout the day, his Texas colleague, former governor Rick Perry, lost his second co-chairman in Iowa. Former US senator Rick Santorum announced that a top Hawkeye State staffer, Karen Fesler, would join his team — yet another sign that Perry’s campaign is sputtering due to lack of funds.
Robert Stein, a political science professor at Rice University in Houston, said the main reason why Cruz has ascended while Perry struggled is the baggage from the governor’s 2012 campaign.
“Why go with a used and failed candidate when you can have a new, fresh face without the baggage of previous runs for office and no diminution in conservative furor,” Stein said. “It’s also worth noting that Cruz has a clear plan for his path to the nomination, one built on becoming the standard bearer for evangelicals, Tea Party, and nonestablishment Republicans. If he survives through South Carolina, Super Tuesday states look very hospitable to his candidacy.”
James Pindell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @jamespindell, or click here to subscribe to his daily e-mail update on the 2016 campaign.