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Cruz appeals to staunch conservatives; promises jobs, freedom, security at West County rally

Cruz told the crowd he thought the election would come down to issues of jobs, freedom, and security
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio
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Cruz told the crowd he thought the election would come down to issues of jobs, freedom and security

Presidential hopeful Ted Cruz held a rally at Parkway West High School one day after protests interrupted  Donald Trump yesterday in St. Louis and caused the New York businessman to cancel a gathering in Chicago.

Before taking the stage, Cruz blamed most of that disruption on forces outside the Republican Party.

“Everyone has a First Amendment right to speak but the First Amendment does not give you the right to silence others. And we’ve seen -- whether it is the Bernie Sanders campaign or the Black Lives Matter or others -- we’ve seen some protesters that take speech into intimidation or violence,” he said.

He also acknowledged that a campaign’s behavior “begins and ends at the top,” and appealed for civility.

Cruz told reporters he believed protesters used their right to free speech to infringe on other's right to free speech yesterday
Credit Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio
Cruz told reporters he believed protesters used their right to free speech to infringe on other's right to free speech yesterday.

A full gym listened as Cruz set forth an agenda that takes on Hillary Clinton, the current Democratic administration and Trump. The Republican hopeful characterized Trump as a former Democratic Party supporter after Carly Fiorina, who recently endorsed Cruz, portrayed Trump as part of the “establishment” moments earlier on same stage.

Throughout the rally, Cruz appealed to his religious conservative base. Cruz said the election would come down to three issues: jobs, freedom and security. (Click on this link to find full audio of his speech.)

He also made several promises intended to address these issues, allay the concerns of his constituency, and sway undecided voters.

  • “We will repeal Obamacare.”
  • “We will pass a simple flat tax.”
  • “We should abolish the IRS.”
  • “We’re going to rein in the EPA and the CFPB and the alphabet soup of federal agencies that have descended like locusts on small businesses, killing jobs all across this country.”
  • “We’re going to stop amnesty, secure the borders, end ‘sanctuary cities’ and end welfare benefits for those here illegally.”

Cruz also promised to put a conservative judge on the Supreme Court and improve national defense.
Some who attended the rally were firmly in Cruz’s camp; some were still undecided.

Delin Stonebrinner, a Parkway West teacher who shook the candidate’s hand, said “Ted’s my guy. We need to make the country go back as it was designed and hopefully he can get us there.”

Stonebrinner was attracted to Cruz’s tax plan and desire to abolish the IRS.

Before the event, Gwen Keen wasn’t so sure about which Republican to support. She was a former Ben Carson supporter who feels torn between Cruz and Carson’s recent endorsement of Donald Trump.

“I really haven’t made my final decision and don’t know if I will until I get into the voter box,” she said.

Jerry Sherp, a retired contractor, said his number one concern is the economy. He attended the rally because he believes that to be informed voters, people need to hear all sides.

“I like the idea that there’s a wide variety of people to check out prior to the election. It’s going to be very interesting, especially when it comes down to just the Republican vs. the Democrat,” he said.

A supporter was moved to tears as Fiorina took the stage and began to lay out her reasons for supporting Cruz
Credit Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio
A supporter was moved to tears as Carly Fiorina took the stage.

Republican players came out in support of Cruz. State Sen. Eric Schmitt, who is running for state treasurer, introduced the candidate. Former Jeb Bush supporter U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner, who’s long been critical of Trump,  threw her support behind Cruz in the last couple days. She also took to the stage in support of the candidate.

Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders will be in town Sunday, with Chelsea Clinton coming Monday to support her mother’s campaign. Hillary Clinton was in south St. Louis County Saturday.

Missouri and Illinois hold their presidential primaries Tuesday.

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