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After Wisconsin Win, Cruz Turns His Attention East

Also, Cruz issues firmest denial of tabloid suggestions of extra-marital affairs and Lindsey Graham offers his strongest statements of support yet for Cruz.

Ted Cruz on stage at his election night party on March 15, 2016, in Houston.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, on Friday made his first trip to Pennsylvania as a presidential candidate, offering an appeal to blue-collar workers in the state as he contrasted himself with his Democratic rivals.

"If Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders or some other socialist is elected president, you’re going to see tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians losing their jobs in the coal industry, tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians losing their jobs in the oil and gas industry," Cruz said during an afternoon speech in the Harrisburg area. "You’re going to see tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians out on the street because the federal government isn’t looking out for them."

"If I’m elected president, we’re going to get the federal government out of the way, and you’re going to see tens of thousands of more Pennsylvanians getting new jobs in coal and oil and gas and small business," Cruz added.

Cruz was addressing the Pennsylvania Leadership Conference, which bills itself as "America's largest state-based conservative conference." Pennsylvania holds it primary on April 26.

"The battle in Pennsylvania is going to matter," Cruz said, calling the state a "bellwether." "It's going to make a difference."

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Cruz on Monday finally said what his skeptics have been asking him to say.

"I have always been faithful to my wife," the Republican presidential candidate said here during a town hall, the Texas senator's firmest denial yet of a tabloid story suggesting he may have had five affairs.

As soon as the story broke last month, Cruz said it was made up of lies and alleged allies of Donald Trump were behind it. That did not satisfy some, though — especially Trump supporters, who wondered why Cruz did not respond by explicitly saying he has been faithful to his wife.

At the town hall, which was moderated by Fox News host Megyn Kelly, Cruz reiterated his belief that families should be off limits in the race for the White House. And at one point, he briefly turned the question of personal failings on Trump, who has gone through two divorces.

"I don't think it's a state secret that Donald's personal life hasn't been immaculate," Cruz said, declining to go further.

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After trouncing Trump in Wisconsin, Cruz took a victory lap Wednesday in New York.

Visiting a multi-ethnic restaurant in the Bronx, the Texas senator again billed his decisive defeat of Trump on Tuesday as a "turning point" in the Republican race for the White House. But reality quickly settled in as Cruz was reminded that he is badly trailing Trump in the billionaire's home state of New York, which holds its primary in two weeks.

"The interesting thing about polling is it can change and it can change quickly," said Cruz, whose campaign is hoping to at least perform well in some congressional districts in the Empire State.

Speaking with reporters at the restaurant, Cruz also brushed off the idea that his use of the term "New York values" against Trump will come back to haunt him. Cruz caused a bipartisan brouhaha when he used the phrase to criticize Trump earlier this year in Iowa.

"The people of New York know exactly what those values are," Cruz said Wednesday, tying them to Trump's donations to New York Democrats over the years. "If you want to know what liberal Democratic values are, follow Donald Trump's checkbook."

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U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham's 180 flip on Ted Cruz is complete.

South Carolina's senior senator crowed about Cruz's virtues at the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday, a few weeks after he endorsed the Texan for the GOP nomination. But Graham delivered that endorsement with a wink and a nod, telegraphing that it was half-hearted.

But on Tuesday, Graham painted Cruz as the GOP's savior amid real estate magnate Donald Trump's dominance in the race. 

"I think if Cruz does well tonight, then maybe more people will realize that the disaster of Trump can only be stopped by Cruz," Graham said of Tuesday's Wisconsin primary.

"I'm not sugar coating our differences," he added. "I think he's a reliable Republican conservative."

He argued Cruz's policies are more digestible when compared to Trump.

"He would support conservative judges ... I think he would repeal and replace Obamacare. I don't think he would order our troops to commit war crimes. I think his foreign policy views are far closer to mine than Trump's."

It is a far cry from previous Graham commentary on Cruz. In December, he argued Cruz's conservative abortion stances would make him unviable in a general election.

More recently, Graham joked, that "If you killed Ted Cruz on the floor of the Senate, and the trial was in the Senate, nobody would convict you."

But on Tuesday, Graham was firm in his support for Cruz. He conceded that Gov. John Kasich would be the GOP's best general election candidate, but the Ohio Republican has not proved himself in the GOP nomination fight, in Graham's view. 

"Is he my first choice? No," Graham said of Cruz. Graham endorsed former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush after dropping his own presidential bid. "But I'll tell you this, he's run a hell of a campaign."

"He's impressed me, and I hope other people will keep an open mind about Cruz," he added. "If you want to stop Trump, Cruz is your best shot. If you want a competitive election, Cruz will make it competitive.”

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