Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) defended the controversial Colorado Republican delegate selection process on Monday in two rally speeches in southern California as he kicked off his campaign in the Golden State.
In a morning address in Irvine, and an evening rally in San Diego, Cruz fired up hundreds of fans, activists and delegate candidates, touting his jobs, freedom, and security policies, and taking shots at Democrats Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
But Cruz also defended the Colorado delegate selection process, which rival and frontrunner Donald Trump attacked as part of a “rigged system.”
On Monday evening, Cruz referenced his landslide win in Utah, his delegate win in North Dakota, and his surge in the Wisconsin primary. He also boasted about sweeping delegate wins in Colorado, including victories in seven districts and at the state level:
Now you may have noticed that when Donald loses he yells and screams and stamps his foot, he curses and yells to anyone nearby. Look we know in the state of California, wine is best served with cheese.
And Donald has this very odd thing, so Colorado, he’s been on TV all day long, saying Colorado was terrible they stole the election. Donald, 65,000 people voted in the state of Colorado, they just didn’t vote for you, they voted for our campaign. To put it more simply Donald — it ain’t stealing when the voters vote against you. It is the voters reclaiming this country and reclaiming sanity.
The “voting” process to which Cruz referred involved the selection of state delegates, starting at the precinct level. Last year, the state party chose to cancel the traditional voting process for the 2016 election — the only state party to do so.
In Irvine on Monday morning, Cruz also referred to the Colorado process as an “election”: “In the last three weeks, we have beaten Donald Trump in all eleven elections,” he told an enthusiastic crowd, including Colorado in his list.
In 2012 approximately 66,000 Coloradans voted in the Republican caucuses, according to the New York Times. In 2008 approximately 70,000 Republican voters turned out for the primary caucuses.
On Monday, Trump took to Twitter, criticizing the Colorado GOP’s delegate process. He hit on the issue again at an evening campaign rally in Albany, New York saying, “It’s a totally corrupt, rigged system.” Trump proclaimed that in Colorado, “They took away their votes.”
IN both Irvine and San Diego, Cruz claimed he was the best candidate to defeat Clinton, citing a Fox News poll showing that he is beating the former Secretary of State 47 to 44. He also highlighted his lead over Clinton “with young people by 14 points.” He took a shot at Clinton over her email scandal: “I do have good news for Hillary’s legal team. Going forward Hillary is going to be able to use any server she wants because she will never again be an employee of the United States government.”
Cruz has quietly been spending time in California in recent weeks, meeting with delegates and raising funds and rallying support. Monday marked the emphatic start of his campaign for California’s 172 Republican delegates. He hopes to stop Trump from winning an overall majority of 1,237, and to force a contested convention. He told the crowd gathered in San Diego that for the first time in decades, “California is gonna decide the Republican presidential candidate.”
The Texas senator emphasized many of his familiar campaign trail talking points on jobs, freedom, and security.
“People of California, y’all are paying the price for having the highest taxes in the country, for having the worst regulatory regime in the country, for causing small businesses to flee this country, but let me tell you this, in 2017 we’re gonna pull the boot of Washington off of California…”.
San Diego is home to a significant military and veteran population, and Cruz ramped up the San Diego audience when he crescendoed on the use of military force.
“Americans have always been reluctant to use military force. We are slow to anger. We believe in peace through strength. But if and when military force is necessary, we should use overwhelming force, kill the enemy and then get the heck out.”
The packed banquet room, where local Republicans had gathered for the party meeting-turned-Cruz rally, hosted scores of enthusiastic Cruz supporters as well as some Trump fans. Throughout the Cruz speech the crowd would break out in boisterous chanting.
Republican Party of San Diego County Chairman Tony Krvaric told Breitbart News, “We invited all three candidates and were thrilled when Senator Cruz accepted our invitation to address San Diego County Republicans. 2,000 tickets were snapped up in less than 18 hours an over 1,000 attendees were wait listed for what turned out to be our biggest event ever.”
Krvaric highlighted the local party’s websites for each of the three remaining candidates — Ted Cruz, Donald Trump and Ohio Gov. John Kasich — that give volunteers a place to connect with the campaign of their choice.
Follow Michelle Moons on Twitter @MichelleDiana