The 2016 presidential candidate — considered a long shot in some polls and a rising underdog in others — entered the gymnasium to raucous applause as Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA” blared from the speakers.
Just minutes before, Cruz told members of the media, “We are building a grassroots army. Our entire approach in South Carolina and nationwide is from the ground.”
The “army” inside the gym was electric, the pack rising and falling with applause, as the candidate vowed — on his first day in office — to replace the tax code with a flat tax of 10 percent of earnings for families bringing home more than $36,000 a year. He pledged to “rip to shreds the catastrophic Iranian nuclear deal” and end the persecution of religious liberty in America on day 1. He vowed to open an investigation into Planned Parenthood and “prosecute any and all criminal violations.”
Rounding out his list of things to do, Cruz pledged to begin the process of moving the American embassy for Israel to Jerusalem.
“So that’s day 1,” he said, as the crowd laughed. In the days that followed, Cruz vowed to “repeal every word of Obamacare,” dismantle Common Core, abolish the IRS and send the tax professionals to secure the border, end birth-born citizenship, stand up to radical Islamists and “take on the EPA.”
The to-do list came amidst a fevered speech littered with biting words for the media, the ” Washington cartels” and his fellow politicians. But Cruz also offered a warning and a call to fight in the wake of the terrorist attacks that gripped France two days before.
You don’t show weakness, you don’t negotiate with theocratic zealots, you destroy them. Sen. Ted Cruz (R- Texas)
“Our prayers are with the men and women of France, the moms and dads, the sons and daughters who have lost loved ones. But while President (Barack) Obama is unwilling to acknowledge, this is not an attack of violent extremism, this is the face of radical Islamic terrorism,” he said, as the crowd applauded. “You don’t show weakness, you don’t negotiate with theocratic zealots, you destroy them.”
The crowd erupted in cheers and a loud applause.
The event opened with two prayers. One for America. One for France.
“I thought it was wonderful that prayer opened it and God Bless America,” said Pam Hartfield, of Johnsonville, who saw Cruz for the first time in person at the event Sunday. Despite her first time seeing him live, Hartfield said she had been following Cruz’s career since he won his Texas senator seat in 2012.
“I like his stance on God,” she said, adding that she’d like to see Cruz and Trump team up for a run at the White House.
“I thought he did marvelous. Every time I hear him, I like him better,” said Joan Wood, of the Carolina Forest community, who says she’s heard the senator speak at least three times. “I like his support of the veterans. I like the flat tax. I like getting rid of Obamacare. … I just hope that when he gets elected, he can get them done.”
Donna W. McKinney, of Myrtle Beach, said she joined Cruz’s campaign as a volunteer in June. “I have never done this before,” she said, of volunteering for a candidate running for president. “This is how strong I feel about this candidate.”
Cruz has “proven to be a leader,” she said, who is “not afraid to back down.” He’s the man to get things done, she added.
Cruz told the crowd on Sunday that his campaign had gained momentum, adding that with an influx of $26 million over the last six-plus months, he stood as the candidate with the highest bank account from donors.
The venue changed on Saturday. Cruz’s latest campaign stop in the Grand Strand was initially set to be held at Horry Georgetown Technical College. But organizers say they were forced to search for a larger hall “due to overwhelming response” from those wanting to attend.
Weaver: 843-444-1722; @TSNEmily.
Presidential candidates Gov. Jeb Bush and Donald Trump will also make appearances in Myrtle Beach
When: Bush will speak at 5 p.m. Tuesday; Trump will speak at 6 p.m. Nov. 24
Where: Bush will speak at The Wall Building, Johnson Auditorium; Trump will speak at Broadway at the Beach
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