DES MOINES, Iowa – In an exclusive interview on the grounds of the Iowa State Fair, GOP presidential contender Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) tells Breitbart News his father, 76-year-old pastor Rafael Cruz, is “having the time of his life” speaking to evangelical groups in Iowa and around the country.
“It’s not so secret,” Cruz tells Breitbart News when asked if the elder Cruz is his “secret weapon” to gain support among Christian evangelical voters who are expected to play a significant role in the outcome of the February 2016 Iowa GOP caucus.
While Rafael Cruz’s outreach to the evangelical community may not be a “secret weapon,” his solid reputation and enthusiastic support for his son’s presidential campaign is a significant asset that none of the other GOP presidential contenders can match, especially here in Iowa where evangelical voters are so important in the GOP caucuses.
The junior senator from Texas couldn’t stop smiling when he spoke of his father, who was tortured and escaped from Castro’s Cuba before coming to the United States with nothing but one hundred dollars to his name.
After building a small business, Cruz said, his father became a pastor and speaker.
“He’s having the time of his life,” Cruz said of his father. “He’s 76-years-old and he gets up every day and he speaks to churches and groups around the country.”
Earlier in the day, Cruz had climbed onto the famous Iowa State Fair soapbox, where he used the 20 minutes allotted to all GOP hopefuls to articulate his platform to the fair-going crowd. Donald Trump is the only major GOP contender who has visited the fair without going to the soapbox, due to a dispute he has with its sponsor, the Des Moines Register.
In his address to the large and enthusiastic crowd, Cruz highlighted the same limited government themes featured in the standard stump speech he’s honed during his recent seven state Southern tour.
He paid special attention to issues of concern to evangelicals, calling for an investigation into Planned Parenthood, an end to the persecution of “the Little Sisters of the Poor,” as well as an end to the persecution of Christian businesses.
He made a special point to invite the crowd to attend a Rally for Religious Liberty to be held in downtown Des Moines this evening, at which he expected “thousands” to attend.
But Cruz also made a specific mention of his father to the crowd, who he said “has spent lots of time in Iowa” speaking to religious groups, and plans to spend a lot more in the future.
In his exclusive interview with Breitbart News, Cruz hit on a theme he’s pointed out previously on the campaign trail – evangelicals need to participate in the electoral process and vote.
“There are 90 million evangelicals in the country, about 30 percent of the population,” Cruz tells Breitbart News. “In the last election, 54 million evangelicals did not vote.”
Evangelicals need to vote their Biblical values, Cruz says.
Cruz took the high road when asked if evangelicals should consider the religious beliefs of the candidates when considering whom to vote for.
When asked if evangelicals should view “mainline” Christian candidates differently than Christian candidates who are evangelicals, Cruz reiterated that evangelicals should vote their Biblical beliefs.
Cruz did not respond to Breitbart’s question about whether he disagreed with the group known as the Evangelical Immigration Table, which holds that amnesty for illegal aliens is supported by Biblical world views.