Ted Cruz Blitzes Texas|Ahead of Super Tuesday

     SAN ANTONIO (CN) – Texas Sen. Ted Cruz sharpened his attack on Republican frontrunner Donald Trump Monday during a three-city blitz of his home state, where supporters declared the delegate-rich state “Cruz Country” hours before Super Tuesday voting begins in 12 states.
     Cruz, along with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and former Gov. Rick Perry, rallied supporters Monday in Dallas, San Antonio and Houston ahead of Super Tuesday where 595 Republican delegates are in play.
     “It’s great to be home,” Cruz said at a standing-room-only auditorium in north San Antonio.
     “We’ve got 24 hours, 24 hours until the end of Super Tuesday,” Cruz said. “If you don’t want to see Donald Trump as the nominee, if you don’t want to see Hillary Clinton as the next president, then stand with us on Super Tuesday.”
     Texas is a must-win state for Cruz if he wants to keep Trump, who has won three straight primaries and caucuses, from sweeping the March 1 primaries.
     A University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll in late February has Cruz leading with 38 percent of the vote, followed by Trump at 26 percent.
     There are 155 delegates at stake in Texas, more than any other state that has voted so far. Both parties will be assigning delegates proportionally, but the Republican Party allows a winner-take-all scenario if a candidate wins over 50 percent of the statewide vote, although polls indicate that is unlikely.
     San Antonio resident Aseneth French brought her three children to see Cruz Monday afternoon in what was the family’s first campaign event. She said the GOP race has been exciting so far and predicted a Cruz win over Trump in Texas on Tuesday.
     “This is actually the first time that we’ve really followed the election, paid attention, and seen the importance of just getting the word out there to vote,” French said. “At the end the Lord will triumph and Trump will not make it.”
     Over a million Texans have already cast ballots in the 15 counties with the most registered voters during the state’s 11-day early-voting period that closed Friday. That’s up from 2012 when 565,538 voted early, but about 85,000 votes shy of the record-breaking 1,193,576 ballots cast in 2008, according to the Texas Secretary of State.
     Inside the San Antonio auditorium, and under the hall’s disco ball, supporters waved signs that said “Cruzin’ to the White House,” and “TrusTed.” About 20 minutes after the rally’s 2 p.m. start time, chants of “We want Ted” erupted, but quickly dissipated after less than a minute.
     “God bless Texas,” Perry said as the one-time presidential candidate took the stage. He called Cruz a “consistent conservative” who could bring stability to the nation as president.
     Mark Magallanez, 28, called Trump “just a reality star” and worried about the negative implications a Trump presidency would have on the Mexican-American community.
     “I don’t see anything serious about him,” Magallanez said of the GOP front-runner. “When it comes to somebody like an underdog like Ted Cruz, I just take somebody like him more serious than somebody like Trump; it’s like voting for Kim Kardashian.”
     Magallanez said he was turned off by what he described as racist comments made by Trump along the campaign trail and held out some Trump supporters as “closet racists.”
     “I feel if he (Trump) does win, we’re in a lot of trouble because of the fact that people will feel that ‘Oh now we have a president like this, now I can get away with saying whatever it is I want to say,’ especially toward Mexicans,” he said.
     Karina Magallanez, 28, questioned whether Trump’s rhetoric made him unelectable in San Antonio because the city “is so cultural.”
     “You have all of these events that are Mexican heritage and someone like that coming in and saying all these things about immigrants, but immigrants are what make San Antonio so special,” she said.
     They both agreed that Cruz is the party’s last best shot at stopping Trump from clinching the Republican nomination.
     “Not even Marco Rubio I feel has a chance,” Mark Magallanez said.
     Trump has been under fire since Sunday, when he refused to denounce white supremacist David Duke or the Ku Klux Klan on CNN. Trump has since blamed the exchange with CNN’s Jake Tapper on a faulty TV earpiece.
     Cruz focused his stump speech in Texas on repealing the Affordable Care Act, protecting Second Amendment freedoms, and the importance of a conservative being nominated to the Supreme Court. He also vowed to defeat radical Islamic terrorism.
     “And we’ll have a president willing to utter the words: radical Islam terrorist,” he said.
     While Cruz’s attacks occasionally veered to Rubio and Clinton, most were mostly centered on Trump.
     “You don’t get to abuse our immigrant laws and take advantage of American workers and then call yourself a champion for America men and women,” Cruz said of Trump.
     He told the Texas crowd about a “secret meeting” Trump held with the New York Times where Trump supposedly told the paper that he doesn’t really intend to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
     “That’s what’s been reported, that The New York Times has a tape of Donald saying, ‘Everything I’m saying on immigration, I’m just saying it because the voters like it, I don’t intend to do any of it,'” Cruz said.
     Cruz called on Trump to allow The New York Times to release the tape. Cruz said that the paper claims the exchange was an off-the-record interview.
     He told supporters that 65 percent of Republicans “recognize that Donald Trump is not the best candidate to go head-to-head” with Clinton.
     “If we nominated Donald Trump, in all likelihood Hillary wins the general election and our kids and grandkids futures are in serious jeopardy,” Cruz said. “It doesn’t make sense to have, in a general election, two rich liberal New Yorkers on the ballot, one Democrat and one supposedly Republican.”
     Nationally, Trump is dominating the field, and according to an analysis of state-by-state polls, is poised to sweep the Super Tuesday states. A new CNN poll released Monday has Trump leading with 49 percent, followed by Rubio at 16 and Cruz with 15 percent.
     But Cruz, hoping to save face and avoid an upset in Texas, passionately repeated his argument that his “is the only campaign that is in a position to beat Donald Trump tomorrow on Super Tuesday.”
     Meanwhile, a few miles away in downtown San Antonio, former President Bill Clinton stumped for his wife as she campaigned in the northern states.
     Mitt Romney won the 2012 Texas GOP primary with 69 percent of the vote and eventually won the Republican nomination.
     In 2008, John McCain won the state’s GOP primary and also went on to win the Republican nomination. On the Democratic side, Clinton won the 2008 Texas primary by just over three percentage points but lost the nomination to Barack Obama.
     This is the first presidential election where Texas is requiring voters to present a photo ID.

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