GREENVILLE, South Carolina — Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) told Breitbart News in an exclusive interview at his campaign headquarters here in Greenville on Monday of his plan to win the Republican primary nationally, and after securing the nomination, beat former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a general election match-up.
The interview happened moments after a poll of likely Iowa GOP caucus-goers from Monmouth University, conducted Dec. 3 to Dec. 6, showed Cruz with a 24-19 lead outside the 4.8 percent margin of error was published. Thus Cruz’s meteoric rise in Iowa seemed to be coming into national political focus.
Hours after the interview, CNN published a separate poll it conducted from Nov. 28 to Dec. 6—most of which was before the San Bernardino terrorist attacks on Dec. 2—finding Trump still leading in Iowa with 33 points to Cruz’s second place 20 percent. But now, on Saturday evening, the Des Moines Register and Bloomberg published a poll by premiere Iowa pollster J. Ann Selzer—the Register’s pollster—showing Cruz with what Selzer calls a “commanding” lead of 31 points to Trump’s 21 points. Trump is still in good shape in Iowa, but the poll conducted Dec. 7 to Dec. 10 solidifies Cruz’s standing as the new frontrunner in the Hawkeye State. Cruz’s 10-point lead is more than double outside the 4.9 percent margin of error.
Cruz told Breitbart News in the exclusive interview here in Greenville, S.C., in his campaign office on Monday:
The support we’re seeing, it’s tremendously encouraging and I think it is many, many months of incredible hard work by grassroots activists in Iowa and South Carolina and New Hampshire and Nevada and all across the country that is beginning to bear fruit. From the beginning—you were at our campaign when we launched it at Liberty University—our intention was to build a grassroots army, to build a campaign following on the Biblical principle of building on a foundation of stone. It was to put in place the volunteers, the young people, the women, the Tea Party activists, the libertarians, the pastors, the men and women across this country who are passionate to turn things around. And what we have been seeing week after week, month after month, is conservatives unite behind our campaign. I think today’s poll numbers are a manifestation of that. And that dynamic is playing out across the country. If conservatives continue to unite, we win. So that will remain our focus, bringing together conservatives to coalesce and reassemble that old Reagan coalition.
Cruz detailed for Breitbart News why he believes his campaign is seeing a surge. At the center of his success, he says, is the unification of conservatives behind his campaign that he’s been able to achieve—all while establishment GOP candidates like Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich split the ever-shrinking establishment vote. Cruz said:
We have a tremendous team on the ground in South Carolina. We are seeing here in South Carolina what we’re seeing in Iowa, and what we’re seeing across the country. We’re seeing conservatives uniting. Typically, there have been two major lanes in a Republican primary: A moderate lane and a conservative lane. Past elections, there’s been a consensus moderate choice and all the moderates get behind them. And on the conservative side, there are typically a ton of us, nobody has any money and we fight like cats and dogs. This election that dynamic is switched. The moderate lane is unbelievably crowded. You’ve got four or five candidates with millions of dollars that are slugging it out. You see the Bush campaign, which clearly views Marco Rubio as the most formidable moderate in that lane, but those four or five candidates are going to slug it out for several months. The moderates, amazingly, are behaving like conservatives typically behave.
Cruz argued that he has benefited most from the withdrawal of three other GOP candidates—former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal—because he’s been able to bring their supporters into his tent. Meanwhile, Cruz has been accumulating support from a clearly slipping Dr. Ben Carson—whom he did not mention in this interview—and from other conservatives who haven’t, in his words, been able to gain “meaningful traction.”
“And on the conservative side of the ledger, you look at the three candidates who have dropped out—Rick Perry, Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal—all three were competing predominantly in the conservative lane,” Cruz said. “Other candidates who were expected to be formidable in the conservative lane, for whatever reason, have not gotten meaningful traction. What we’re seeing is conservatives continuing to unite and coalesce behind our campaign.”
If this trend continues—as many seem to think it will—Cruz believes that means he will end up winning the GOP presidential nomination in 2016. He said:
The result of that—if this race ends up a head-to-head battle between one strong conservative and one strong moderate, which many observers think is likely—is that we win. Conservatives outnumber moderates in the Republican Party three to one right now. And in past elections it’s always been the case that moderates have all the money and conservatives have none of the money, but right now today our campaign has more money in the bank than any other Republican in the field. That hasn’t happened, that the strong movement conservative with the grassroots support also has the resources to communicate, that hasn’t happened since 1980 with Ronald Reagan. And so I am very, very encouraged.
Cruz pointed to a New York Times article last weekend that detailed how the Rubio campaign—which has basically emerged as the face of the donor class in the Washington establishment—is shifting its tactics, as proof that the establishment doesn’t seem to be able to stop him.
“I would note that this week the New York Times had a big story on how the Rubio campaign is panicking because of the support we’re seeing for our campaign,” Cruz said. “And their [Rubio’s team’s] strategy is simply to go hard negative with relentless attack ads, even though they know those ads are false. They are incredibly concerned that they have to do something to stop conservatives from uniting behind our campaign.”
Cruz, from there, singled out one particular thing in the Times piece that many political observers may not have instantly noticed: Team Rubio’s seeming unwillingness to put their candidate in front of actual voters in early primary states.
“What was striking—there were a number of things striking about that article, but one of them was the Rubio campaign saying essentially they don’t believe in the grassroots, that they’re not campaigning in early primary states, that they believe it is better just to put Sen. Rubio in New York on Fox News all day long,” Cruz said.
Cruz added a moment later about Team Rubio:
I don’t believe that’s how primaries are won. Primaries are won on the ground with the grassroots. You’ve got to be willing to sit down and look voters in the eye and answer the hard questions. I understand it can be difficult. It can be difficult when voters are asking you ‘why did you support amnesty?’ It can be difficult when voters are asking you ‘why did you try to give Barack Obama the power to let in more Syrian refugees without background checks?’ Those are hard questions. I understand why a campaign would say ‘let’s keep our candidate away from the grassroots because uncomfortable questions result.’ But primaries and elections are about the people, and if you’re not willing to be accountable to the people and answer the hard questions, that rarely leads to victory.
Cruz noted that his campaign, however, is much different than that. He’s happily championing the causes of the grassroots and aggressively campaigning in early states while building a national grassroots infrastructure that will take him well past many other candidates without his team’s depth. Cruz said:
We have a very different philosophy. In the last eight weeks, I’ve been in Iowa seven times. We have been in South Carolina. We have been in New Hampshire. We are the only campaign that has announced county chairmen in all 171 counties in the first four primary states—Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada—the only campaign that has announced congressional district chairs in all 163 congressional districts in the first 24 states all the way through March 14. To date, we have over 100,000 volunteers across the country—men and women who have signed up to knock on doors and make phone calls.
Cruz also detailed a new grassroots operation designed to intensify get-out-the-vote organizing efforts in Iowa.
“We just opened this week in Iowa ‘Camp Cruz,’ a college dormitory that we’ve rented with 48 beds,” Cruz said. “We have over 500 volunteers that have signed up to be there every day from now until the Iowa caucus in Camp Cruz to knock on doors, to trudge through the Iowa snow, to turn out the grassroots. That is a very different campaign philosophy from the New York-based media philosophy, to count on the support of the big money Washington elites and media commentators who are pushing your campaign.”