BOONE, Iowa — U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz on Monday morning launched a six-day swing through Iowa, looking to close the deal with voters in the state where he has become the leader of the Republican presidential pack.
“This is January,” the Texan told supporters crammed into a Christian bookstore here. “The time for the media bickering back and forth — that’s come and gone. The time for all the games — that’s come and gone. This is now the time that the men and women of Iowa step up and make your decisions.”
Cruz’s remarks came at the first stop on a 28-county bus tour of Iowa, where he has eclipsed billionaire Donald Trump in recent polls and become a growing target for his GOP rivals. Speaking with reporters before his event in Boone, Cruz wielded the influx of attacks as a badge of honor.
“Two weeks ago, every candidate in the field, or just about every candidate in the field, was attacking Donald Trump,” Cruz said. “Now, just about every candidate in the Republican field is attacking me. I guess something has changed.”
In his gaggle with reporters, Cruz also weighed in on the news of the day: the takeover of a federal building in Oregon by armed militia members. The GOP has been relatively quiet about the conflict, which flared up Sunday.
“Every one of us has a constitutional right to speak our minds, but we don’t have a constitutional right to use force and violence and threaten force and violence on others," Cruz said. "And so it is our hope that the protesters there will stand down peaceably and there won’t be a violent confrontation."
With less than a month until the first-in-the-country nominating contest, Cruz urged Iowans to commit to caucus for him. In his remarks, he asked them to vote “10 times” — not literally, he clarified, explaining that he would like each Iowan to find nine other people to support him.
“Now look, we’re not Democrats,” Cruz joked. “I’m not asking you to commit voter fraud.”