SOUTH BEND, IN – Four days before the Indiana primary, three women from Illinois – two of us Hispanic – drove two-and-a-half hours to South Bend to knock on doors for Ted Cruz to become the 45th President of the United States.
We left behind our families and worked for the day to walk the predominately Democratic, blue-collar neighborhoods of the city. We weren’t paid.
We believe that much in Cruz.
A few days earlier, on a frugal budget, three women from Florida – Cheryl Lankes, Mary Nail and Keri Giddings – took a $200 flight to Chicago. They were about to rent a car, drive to Indiana and book a hotel room for a week when serendipity kicked in: Cheryl, a stay-at-home Mom who used to live in Crown Point, Indiana, was able to contact a friend in Merrillville to pick them up at the airport.
More good fortune came their way when, on a lark, she texted a woman she used to babysit when she was younger: “Can we stay with you for the night?” The woman – now grown, married and living in Granger, Indiana – said yes.
One hiccup in the arrangement: the woman and her husband are Donald Trump supporters.
“I knew she was a conservative, so I thought she was a Cruz supporter.” After spending a week with Cheryl, Mary and Keri, there’s a good chance those Trump supporters will change their minds.
All six women met each other for the first time at the makeshift Cruz campaign office in a strip mall in Mishawaka. They joined hundreds of other grassroots volunteers who have consistently been working the Cruz ground game since the campaign put down roots in Indiana.
Like the women from Illinois, the Florida women left behind families, work and responsibilities. Keri, a registered nurse, put her husband in charge of the family for the week. Cheryl did the same. And Mary, who was once featured in a 1981 Paul Harvey radio program for having Florida’s “first energy efficient home,” made the trip even though her husband was recently diagnosed with cancer.
As Mary says, “I will crawl across broken glass and work for Ted Cruz.”
Considering her situation, that’s not hyperbole. “My husband just had a new FDA-approved, sophisticated procedure called ‘HIFU’ – high intensity frequency ultrasound. It’s an alternative treatment that kills the cancer cells with no side effects. It costs $25, 000 and we had to borrow on our house. But my husband and my family gave me their blessing to come to Indiana.”
As Cheryl notes: “We had to leave Florida a day later than we originally planned because Mary wanted to cook enough meals for her husband the week she is gone.”
“The stakes are too high,” Mary continued. “I haven’t seen a candidate that I wanted to walk across the street for since Ronald Reagan. Ted Cruz is the closest we have to him.”
The grassroots – and women in particular – believe in Cruz that much.
Cheryl brought a suitcase full of literature, signs and buttons she made herself.
If Ted Cruz wins the pivotal Indiana primary on Tuesday, a large part of the victory will be thanks to the same sort of grassroots momentum that gave him victory in 2012 when he beat a wealthy GOP establishment candidate for U.S. Senate.
As a caller to Rush Limbaugh’s radio program noted: “I voted for Cruz when I lived in Texas and he ran against [David] Dewhurst and they all said he couldn’t do it and that he wasn’t an outsider. He is the epitome of the Tea Party. He’s not the establishment. He is America. He’s the flag.”
That’s the same sort of passion the grassroots women have for Cruz.