SAN DIEGO (CN) – Hundreds of Ted Cruz supporters gathered in San Diego Monday to hear from the Texas senator and Republican presidential hopeful ahead of what may be a decisive California primary June 7.
The rally, hosted by the San Diego Republican Party at the Town and Country Resort, also brought out protestors assailing the candidate on a number of issues.
Among those picketing Cruz were supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders, who displayed huge campaign signs for the Democrat on the back of a truck, and others who support Republican frontrunner Donald Trump.
The Cruz rally was noticeably smaller than the hoards of people who came out for a Sanders rally in San Diego last month .
Francine Busby, chair of the San Diego Democrats, said the campaign stop by Cruz, a climate change skeptic, was an insult to scientists and researchers who have devoted their careers to climate studies at San Diego’s Scripps Institute of Oceanography.
“Scripps Institute was at the forefront of climate change research. This is where it started – in San Diego. Cruz is a huge climate change denier and he’s way too extreme to represent San Diego and California,” Busby said.
Erin Mcleod, director of the local chapter of National Nurses United, said Cruz “stands against everything nurses stand for” from a woman’s right to choose to health care for all. A Sanders supporter, Mcleod said access to affordable quality care is already in a precarious state because “insurance is a rationing of health care.”
In San Diego in particular, Mcleod said, ending veterans’ homelessness is a top priority for her and other nurses.
“We want to fully fund the VA in San Diego to get veterans the care they deserve. Very little has been done to end veterans’ homelessness. Nurses are the strongest advocates for veterans besides the veterans themselves,” Mcleod said.
Kendall De Pascal held up a big “Women for Trump” sign and was wearing a bedazzled top with Trump’s name scrolled across her chest. She said the San Diego chapter of Women for Trump has received interest from 11,000 people, a testament, she said, he is “the perfect candidate for women.”
“It is false women don’t like Trump. Social Media says otherwise. And most of the people who attend his rallies are women,” De Pascal said.
Calling Cruz a liar, De Pascal said if Trump doesn’t get the Republican nomination this summer she will burn her Republican party card and write-in Trump’s name on her ballot.
The opposite sentiment was expressed by Cruz supporters Bill Wilborn and Jami Wood who met while waiting in line to hear Cruz’s speech.
A “Constitutionalist” fond of quoting Thomas Jefferson and the founding fathers, Wilborn said Cruz represents his core values and “everything Cruz is for, I’m for.”
“I want the smartest guy running the country to have heart instead of a self-ego,” Wilborn said.
When asked if he was taking a jab at Trump, Wilborn retorted that he won’t talk about why Trump is unqualified, only why Cruz is.
Wood said she met Cruz’s father last year and was inspired by his story of coming to America from Cuba.
She said their fellow rally attendees were an example of why people back Cruz, noting “he does what he says and says what he does.”
Asked who she would vote for if Cruz doesn’t get the nomination, Jami said she thinks there will be a “big write-in.”
The Martini family was one of the many families who came out in full-force to show their support for Cruz.
Camie Martini said she supports Cruz because she wants a better future for her daughter and thinks Cruz “is the only one who can save the country.”
She said while she always votes Republican, this is the first campaign she’s donated money to and volunteered for.
Kayla Martini, Camie’s daughter, is a junior at Cal State San Marcos. She said unlike her peers and professors at school who support Sanders’ campaign for free college and “think they are entitled to government subsidies,” she is for smaller government and thinks if elected, Cruz will be better at creating jobs for college graduates.
Inside the venue, San Diego City Attorney Jan Goldsmith took the stage and said he supports Ted Cruz, because he believes it’s time to take the top office from “Democratic rule.”
“We’re not supporters of Ted Cruz because it’s politically correct. We support him because we share core values. All lives matter to us. Democrats don’t believe in these values. This is the time to win, because if we don’t win, we all lose,” Goldsmith told the crowd.
Cruz was introduced by conservative San Diego radio host Mike Slater who pumped up the crowd with a call-and-response chant of Cruz’s name.
Slater gave a sermon-like speech, referencing historical figures from Jesus and his apostles to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Turning the common criticism of Cruz as an “extremist” on its head, Slater told the crowd “we want a president who is an extremist for love, justice, integrity and honesty.”
“I want a man who prays. A man who prays is a man who is humble,” Slater told the cheering crowd.
When Cruz took the stage, he kicked things off with a joke about the roots of the word politics.
“Here are the roots of word politics, poli meaning many, and ticks, meaning blood sucking parasites. That is a fairly accurate description of Washington D.C.,” Cruz told a laughing crowd.
Cruz boiled the election down to what he believes are the three critical issues: jobs, freedom and security.
He called out to single moms , truck drivers and others in the service industry who are struggling to make ends meet due to the rising cost of living and stagnant wages, telling them “help is on the way.”
“The people of California are suffering under knuckleheaded, Democrat politicians. You all are paying the price of having the highest taxes in the country. In 2017, we’re going to pull the boot of Washington off the state of California,” Cruz said.
When Cruz went on to discuss “if” he is elected president, the crowd shouted a collective “when,” and the GOP hopeful corrected himself.
“If and when I’m elected president I will repeal every word of Obamacare,” Cruz told his supporters.
But Cruz got the loudest cheers when he told the crowd he would stop amnesty for illegal immigrants in its tracks and secure the borders.
Cruz ended his speech by recommitting himself to protecting the freedoms and religious liberty his supporters care most about.”I will not compromise away your religious liberty. I will not compromise away your second amendment right to bear arms,” Cruz said.
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