Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is coming off his performance in the first debate strong, barnstorming through the American southeast to sold out crowds filled with overwhelmingly enthusiastic supporters riding a grassroots wave of energy through the month of August.
Since the Aug. 6 debate in Cleveland, Cruz has embarked on a bus tour through the South—what his campaign calls “Cruz Country”—with stops in Mount Pleasant, S.C., Savannah, Atlanta, Newman, and Columbus, Georgia, Pelham and Huntsville, Alabama, Chattanooga, Murfreesboro, Franklin, Memphis and Jackson, Tennessee, Tupelo and Olive Branch, Mississippi, and Little Rock, Van Buren and Russelville, Arkansas. On Thursday, he’s wrapping the swing with three stops in Oklahoma—in Oklahoma City, Bartlesville and Tulsa.
Every single event has seen sold out or over capacity crowds, Cruz spokesman Rick Tyler told Breitbart News.
“After the debate—we feel like we got a really big bump out of the debate,” Tyler said, citing the recent NBC News poll that had Cruz in second place. “Within a hundred hours after the debate we raised over a million dollars.”
Cruz has been raising enormous amounts of cash from both high-dollar donors and—especially—from the grassroots. In fact, his campaign has raised more hard money than any other Republican running for president. Combine that with outside Super PACs backing the Texan and political outsider, and he’s second in the GOP money race to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
“We went to Charleston [South Carolina], an early state—and that’s where we started the bus tour,” Tyler said. “The bus tour has been 20 stops, 2,000 miles, basically all through what is commonly known as the ‘SEC Primary.’ No stop has had less than 500 people. At three stops, we had to move the venue outside because we couldn’t fit all the people inside. At one stop, a fire marshall stopped anyone else from coming in and we had 200 people waiting outside. Our biggest event was almost 2,000 people and our smallest event was over 500. The support has been just overwhelming. What’s really striking is the number of young people that have come out. Ted always asks people under 30 to raise their hands and it’s unbelievable how many under 30 are in the crowds—and then how many people have brought their entire families out on a weekday in the middle of the day, brought their entire families out with their kids, to come see Ted Cruz speak. We’ve just been overwhelmed by the response from the grassroots.”
— Jeff Roe (@jeffroe) August 8, 2015
— Jeff Roe (@jeffroe) August 10, 2015
— Rick Tyler (@rickwtyler) August 14, 2015
Tyler said he can’t “describe the crowds as anything other than raucous.” When asked if it’s like a rock concert, Tyler said “it really is.”
— Rick Tyler (@rickwtyler) August 13, 2015
“It’s like a rock concert, and we show up and Ted just knocks it out of the park,” Tyler said. “They just can’t contain themselves—they’re chanting ‘Ted Cruz for president!’ and all kinds of wonderful things. The South is really great. It treated us well all along the way just making things easy for us. Lots of people tell us they’re praying for us and they’re putting their hope into Ted Cruz for president because he says what he means and he means what he says.”
Tyler explained to Breitbart News that there’s a politically strategic reason Cruz has picked these various southern states to build out a massive grassroots operation in.
“Strategically, the reason this is important is because not only can we compete in the early states—we’re going to Nevada on Friday and we’re going back to Iowa on the 21st of August, for a religious liberty rally, that’s going to be a big event—but we’ve got the money, the message, the candidate and the grassroots support to actually organize the SEC states, most of them are March 1 and some of them are March 8, and we’ve announced over 186 leadership positions across the South,” Tyler said in the interview on the campaign bus, which was riding through Oklahoma. “Right now, Congressman Bridenstine is riding with us from Oklahoma City to Tulsa. He introduced Ted in Oklahoma City, he’ll introduce him again in Tulsa. We’re just very encouraged by the support we’ve received, and we believe that because of the compressed time frame between the early states and the SEC primary, you have to organize and spend the time and the resources now if you’re hoping to get the support here in the South. We’ve done that. We’ve put in the resources. We’ve put in the time. And they are really turning out in their support.”
Since Iowa caucuses aren’t until the first week of February this cycle, everything is going to happen much faster than previous cycles especially in the southern states. Since the South is so conservative, with all those primaries right around the corner from Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada and Florida, in early March, it could be the boost that a Cruz candidacy—or any other conservative—needs to win the nomination.
“You can’t win an early state and then get in the car and be arguing with your staff about which state you’re going to go to next,” Tyler said. “You’ve got to be doing the ground game, you’ve got to be doing the organization, you’ve really got to be organized. So this campaign, because we’re organized and we have a candidate who has the right message, we’re built for the long haul. We’re not built for the short run where we hope we win an early state and cash in and hope we’ll go a little further. By the way, that’s never worked—if you look at all the conservatives who have won early states, none of them have gone on to win the nomination. They’ve all gone on to get beaten by the establishment. But here we have Ted Cruz who not only has the grassroots support and organization, but the money to actually compete and go the distance. We haven’t actually had a conservative who can unite the party—unite national security conservatives, social conservatives and fiscal conservatives all together—and we’re also getting a lot of liberty movement people on board. The only way we’re ever going to beat the establishment is if we unite behind one candidate who can put all those people together and have enough money to compete against whoever the establishment decides is going to be their candidate.”
Tyler said he expects the energy from all the non-politicians—Donald Trump, Dr. Ben Carson, and more—to eventually channel behind Cruz, another non-politician. And Cruz looks at the field seeing all this excitement from ordinary Americans nationwide and thinks of it as the year America strikes back against Washington, and whichever vessel by which they eventually choose to strike Washington with—Cruz certainly hopes it will be him—Americans’ intense level of energy is packing a serious punch.
“One thing people often forget about Cruz is he’s only held elected office for two and a half years—he never held elected office before that,” Tyler said. “During that two and a half years, what has he done? He’s fought the establishment at every turn. He’s fought to not raise the debt ceiling, to repeal Obamacare, it goes on and on and on. What the grassroots is telling all the politicians is we’re tired of you being ‘campaign conservatives.’ We actually want consistent conservatives. They’ve just registered their protests will pollsters to say ‘we want anybody but a politician.’ Ted Cruz is the one who stood up to the establishment, stood up to Washington, he’s not a career politician, he’s only been elected two and a half years, and he’s the one who articulates a message that can get people out to rally against Washington to change things. Politicians don’t form parades, they jump in front of them. But Ted Cruz is leading the parade.”