Good morning Austin:
It was hot and crowded at the Pizza Ranch in Pocahontas, Iowa, Thursday morning to hear Ted Cruz.
A woman up front apparently fainted, but was quickly OK.
Afterward I conducted a very quick focus group with students from Pocahontas Area High school.
In the back row, from left to right, that’s Jessica McQuiggan, Caleb Betten and Devon Weidauer. In the front row, from left to right, it’s Sam Brinkman, Lucas Koster, Taylor Thomas and Austin Rosenboom.
All, but Brinkman, are seniors at the high school. Brinkman graduated last year and is now at Iowa State.
They all plan to caucus for Cruz. Rosenboom and Koster are still 17, but will be 18 before the November election so are eligible to caucus.
Rosenboom took credit for being the intellectual guiding force in leading the group to Cruz, but Thomas thought her father deserved some credit.
“My dad is obsessed with him,” she said. Her father, a police officer, worked the event.
When I asked Betten what he liked about Cruz, he mentioned their shared religious faith.
“I look at it as the foundation for everything. Like really, conservatism is grounded in all that.”
From Rosenboom: “The Founding Fathers, they didn’t put it in the Constitution, but every single one of their personal belief systems was God before country, and I believe that they also based the Constitution and every other political document that they wrote off of their religion.”
Rosenboom said what drew him to Cruz was, “his constitutionalism. But his constitutionalism. That’s what our country is built on. The Constitution.”
“My dad is a Trump supporter,” Rosenboom said. “It’s an odd household”
As for Trump, there was a consensus that he was a bit boorish and unpolished, but “straightforward,” and “kind of good to have in the debates.”
Rosenboom suggested he might be better suited to being First Lady, a kind of figurehead position where he could project his personality but do no real harm.
“Any self-respecting conservative would not support a candidate who believes in nationalized health care,” said Rosenboom. “And he plans to replace Obamacare, not repeal it.”
“He’s a populist,” said Rosenboom.
The Pizza Ranch Cruz crew said that most of their classmates either don’t care or are for Trump.
Of Trump’s raising the issue of whether Cruz’s Canadian birth might render him ineligible to be president, Rosenboom said it reflected the calendar.
“Now it’s time for competition,” he said. “The caucuses are in three weeks. Since Ted Cruz is such a solid candidate, it’s hard to find anything.”
President Obama has been in office for nearly half their lives.
McQuiggan recalls her fourth-grade teacher impressing on her students the history-making of his election as the first black president.
All agreed he has been a disappointment.
“I can’t believe he got a second term,” Weidauer said.
Of the other candidates, Rosenboom said, “Rubio’s not a constitutionalist – Gang of Eight bill, and (Mike) Huckabee’s basically a socialist. He’s really a religious guy. Don’t get me wrong, I like that part of him. And Santorum, he’s pretty far right, I mean farther right, in the wrong way. His recent attack ad on Ted Cruz is extremely ridiculous and really takes a lot of credibility away from him.”
Voiceover: Ted Cruz is wonderful at reading children’s fairytales on the Senate floor.
Rick Santorum spent his time in the Senate a little differently. 8 years on the Senate Armed Services Committee, helping to modernize today’s army to better be prepared for today’s threats. Santorum also wrote and passed tough laws putting harsh sanctions on Iran. And for more than a decade, Rick Santorum has been a leader and fighter… taking on radical Islam.
Santorum: “Not all Muslims are jihadists, but all jihadists are Muslims.”
Voiceover: You want someone to read one helluva bedtime story, Ted Cruz is your guy. If you want to protect America, and defeat ISIS, Rick Santorum’s your President. Because serious times need serious people.
Christmas at Camp Cruz
At a press gaggle later in the day at an airport hangar in Webster City, Cruz found himself once again answering “birther” questions, and touting Camp Cruz.
It is incredible. Here in Iowa w have rented a college dormitory with 48 beds. There is so much over-demand that we rented another 36 beds and those beds are full every day from now until the Iowa caucuses.
I believe we have had 796 volunteers from all across the country who are coming up here and who are knocking on doors and who are staying at – we’re calling it Cruz Camp. They’ve decorated it. They have signs. It’s volunteers from all over the country and, you know, it’s an amazing thing.
About half of them are from Texas and when you have people – I’ve got to say, for us Texans to be trudging through the snow in cowboy boots, it’s not necessarily the safest plan. But it is an incredible source of strength for this campaign, the grassroots fervor here in Iowa.
We have these roughly 10,000 volunteers, but to have these national volunteers flying in. We had volunteers on Christmas at Camp Cruz to be here helping to reach out to voters, and it’s a huge source of strength and enthusiasm.
Here is a report on Camp Cruz from Kasie Hunt. It begins about two-minutes-thirty-seconds in
It’s just like summer camp, except that instead of spending your days canoeing in the sunshine, you spend your days canvassing in the bitter cold of Iowa.