PETERBOROUGH, N.H. – Ted Cruz acted like the GOP nominee at a campaign stop here Sunday, criticizing Democrats Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and President Obama while praising the Republican field.
“How many of y’all watched the debate last night?” he asked the several hundred people assembled in Peterborough’s historic town hall. “Isn’t is fantastic that we have such an array of young, talented dynamic Republican candidates for president? What a contrast with the Democrats.”
For more than an hour, Cruz touched on many of his campaign’s central themes – repealing Obamacare, abolishing the IRS, increasing border security and preserving states’ rights – while taking frequent swipes at the Democrats. Obama, he said, violated the Constitution when he enacted new gun regulations late last year, something Cruz promised to reverse.
“You all define gun control the same way we do in Texas: ‘hitting what you aim at,’” he said.
Cruz referenced Saturday’s debate once more, and it was the closest he came to criticizing his competitors. Cruz didn’t use their names, but Senator Marco Rubio and Governors Jeb Bush and Chris Christie said during the debate that they would support opening Selective Service registration to women. Cruz called that “immoral.”
“As I was sitting there listening to that conversation, my reaction was ‘Are you guys nuts?’ We have had enough with political correctness, especially in the military,” he said. “Political correctness is dangerous, and the idea that we would draft our daughters to forcibly bring them into the military and put them in close combat, I think is wrong.”
His two daughters, he said. “are capable of doing anything their hearts desire, but the idea that their government would forcibly put them in a foxhole with a 220-pound psychopath trying to kill them doesn’t make any sense at all.”
“It’s one more sign of this politically correct world where we forget common sense,” he said.
Cruz received warm applause inside the crowded and sunny town hall, but not everyone in Peterborough was pleased with his arrival. When his campaign bus pulled up, a man passing by stopped and shouted, “You’re not welcome in my town.”
The people who came to hear Cruz disagreed, sharing their enthusiasm for his brand of conservatism. Gerry Anderson of Dublin, N.H., describes himself as a Christian drawn to Cruz for his faith and his professional experience.
“With (Christianity) you want skill, wisdom, ability,” he said. “He has those.”
Barbara and Michael Konopka of Walpole, N.H., have admired Cruz for years and plan to vote for him on Tuesday.
“Even if we have to crawl through the snow,” he said.
The Konopkas describe themselves as anti-establishment and believe Cruz will work toward smaller government.
“We like the fact that he stands with the Constitution,” Barbara Konopka said.
Their neighbor, Jerry LaBeau, had been leaning towards businessman Donald Trump but grew worried about how the rest of the world might perceive a Trump administration.
“We’re not going to have anyone respecting us,” he said. “Everybody will think we’re a joke.”
He’s now an enthusiastic Cruz supporter, coining his own slogan – “We want the country on Cruz control – and, during Cruz’s speech, repeatedly rising to his feet to clap. Cruz, he said, is a “gentleman” and that’s an important trait for a president.
“We need somebody with honor,” he said.