A rainy forecast in Columbus did not deter Republican Party presidential candidate Ted Cruz’s supporters from packing into the Northland Performing Arts Center on Sunday night to hear what the Texas senator had to say before Ohioans take to the polls for the primary on Tuesday.
Wearing shirts emblazoned with Cruz’s presidential campaign logo and slogan, a sea of audience members gathered on bleachers set with folding chairs around a stage and bowed their heads in prayer before joining together to say the Pledge of Allegiance.
After a passionate introduction from Phil Burress of Citizens for Community Values, a group described on its website as a “grassroots organization of citizens” that strives to uphold and promote traditional Judeo-Christian moral values, Cruz took the stage. Immediately, the hall erupted into cheers, and a forest of arms hoisting cell phones, “Choose Cruz” signs and, in some cases, bewildered babies wearing Cruz campaign buttons, lifted into the air in ecstatic glee.
Cruz wasted no time thanking the audience for attending the event.
“I am thrilled to be here with so many patriots,” he said. “I am thrilled to be here with so many leaders who are fighting for freedom, fighting for the Constitution and fighting for the values on which this country was built.”
The senator focused his speech on three factors he deemed critical to the presidential race: jobs, freedom and security.
Emphasizing everything from providing jobs for college graduates to repealing President Barack Obama’s health care law and reigning in the “alphabet soup (of regulatory agencies) that has descended like locusts on small businesses,” Cruz promised the crowd that he would stand up for Americans’ rights as outlined by the Constitution.
“I will not compromise away your religious liberty,” he said. “I will not compromise away your Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.”
Cruz incorporated several comments regarding his fellow Republican Party candidates into his address, placing special emphasis on how he is a better choice for the nomination than frontrunner Donald Trump.
“It’s easy to talk about making America great again. You could even print it on a baseball cap,” he joked before adding, “If Donald is our nominee, (former Secretary of State) Hillary Clinton will win. There is only one campaign that has beaten Donald Trump and only one campaign that can and will do it again.”
David Stanislav, chairman of the Ohio State College Republicans and a third-year in chemical engineering who attended the rally, said he intends to vote for Cruz, adding that, for him, the senator has shown himself to be the capable candidate to rally behind in the face of Trump’s divisiveness.
“I think he has what it takes. He is tough and has experience being under media scrutiny, from the left and also from within the party,” he said. “I think that’s a really good quality for a candidate for president to have because as soon as the general election is going on, that scrutiny will be there, and he’s going to have to be able to take the heat.”
OSU College Democrats were not immediately available to provide a comment Sunday evening regarding Cruz’s rally.
The senator ended his speech with a call for voter support in Ohio during the primary.
“This election is all about who shows up at the polls on Tuesday,” Cruz said. “We will turn this country around.”
Cruz’s rally was one of several pre-primary events that took place in Columbus on Sunday. Earlier in the evening, Vermont Sen. and Democratic Party presidential candidate Bernie Sanders held a rally at the Schottenstein Center. Later, Sanders, along with Democratic Party frontrunner Clinton, took part in a town hall forum hosted by CNN and TV One in OSU’s Mershon Auditorium.