FORT DODGE, Iowa — U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz opened a packed swing through early voting Iowa on Monday by blasting leaders in his own party for contemplating changes to the presidential primary calendar, calling it “lunacy” and a “terrible idea.”
Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, recently said he thinks the party "ought to look at" the early voting states on the primary calendar before the next presidential election. Cruz brought up the topic unprompted while discussing the state of the GOP race for the White House at a town hall in Fort Dodge.
“We’re seeing now the Washington establishment talking about wanting to end Iowa’s role as first in the nation and end New Hampshire’s role,” Cruz said. "I think that is lunacy. I think that’s a terrible idea.”
Cruz went on to note that even as a Texan, he sees the value of starting the nominating process in smaller states where citizens have a better chance of seeing the candidates up close. He said it would be “horrible for this country” if the primaries began in larger states, where the contests would be "decided by giant, slick Hollywood TV ads, all artificially created in a studio.”
Cruz, whose campaign is ramping up in the Hawkeye State with an aggressive schedule of events there this month, ended his remarks on the issue by praising Iowans for how seriously they take politics — perhaps as seriously as Texans take football, the senator noted.
“You have the ability to look somebody in the eye, say, ‘All right, are you telling the truth or are you blowing smoke?' That is doing a service,” Cruz said. "Every one of you is a proxy for thousands of Americans that don’t get the chance to do this, to examine and press down and not believe the hot air and smoke but get down to the” truth.
The town hall in Fort Dodge was Cruz’s first stop on a three-day trip to Iowa, with a dozen more events on his schedule.
Clarification: This story has been updated to clarify Reince Priebus' remarks.