FORT WORTH — Ted Cruz opened a daylong swing through his home state Thursday with a warning for other presidential candidates looking to make Texas part of their campaign calculus.
"We’ve got a tremendous base of support here, and so they may discover a difficult path," the Republican U.S. senator told reporters before a raucous rally at the Fort Worth Stockyards.
All but a few of the 17 GOP hopefuls have visited Texas this summer, hoping to take advantage of its expanded influence in the 2016 nominating process. As Cruz spoke, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker was crisscrossing the state for a series of fundraisers, part of a three-day trip to Texas with public events in Dallas, San Antonio and Midland.
While many candidates have turned to the state to fill their campaign coffers, their "fundraising has not yielded a whole lot of results," Cruz said. He went on to repeat his increasingly common boast that his campaign has reported raising nearly six times the amount of money from Texas than the campaign of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
Speaking earlier with reporters, Cruz was more measured, saying he plans to "compete hard" in Texas like he does in every other state. "We're taking nothing for granted," he said.
Under a sun-soaked pavilion here, Cruz addressed hundreds who mostly stood for a version of his stump speech tailored to highlight his home-state roots. He evoked his come-from-behind victory in the 2012 Senate race, saying he is now seeking to harness the same energy in the GOP race for the White House.
"It's good to be home," Cruz said after being introduced by state Sen. Konni Burton, the Colleyville Republican who replaced former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis in the Legislature.
"There used to be someone else representing that district," Cruz said, drawing loud boos. "I think she's now selling pink tennis shoes."
Cruz, whose campaign is based in Houston, was scheduled to hold two more rallies Thursday, in Tyler and then Kingwood.