U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, who has spent the summer crisscrossing the country touting his "national campaign" for the presidency, is turning his attention to friendly territory next month: his home state.
Cruz has scheduled three appearances Sept. 3 in Texas, according to his campaign: a morning rally at the Fort Worth Stockyards, another in the afternoon at Smith's Lone Star Event Center in Tyler and a third in the evening hosted by the Kingwood TEA Party in the Houston suburb. The Tyler event will take Cruz into the backyard of JoAnn Fleming, a prominent conservative activist whom his campaign recently named its Texas Tea Party chairwoman.
Cruz's campaign is calling the home-state trip the "Texas is Cruz Country" tour, an extension of his outreach to the "SEC primary" territory, southern states set to vote March 1, 2016. With his campaign based in Houston and top donors spread throughout the state, Cruz is a regular Texas visitor, but Sept. 3 will mark his highest-profile swing through the state since he launched his bid in March.
In an interview earlier this month, Cruz campaign manager Jeff Roe signaled the senator is not taking his home state for granted, pointing out that nearly a quarter of the delegates at stake on March 1 are from Texas. Cruz faces competition in Texas from several candidates with ties to the state, including former Gov. Rick Perry and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, whose famous family has roots in Dallas and Houston.
"We feel great about Texas, and the poll numbers look great," Roe said, citing the campaign's internal surveys. "You're just not going to beat the favorite son in Texas."
Even in his home state, though, Cruz does not appear to be immune from the national frontrunner status of real estate mogul Donald Trump. A poll finished last week by Gravis Marketing found Trump leading the Republican field in the Lone Star State with the support of 24 percent of likely GOP voters, while Cruz placed second with 16 percent.