Ted Cruz has officially announced his candidacy for president and there's lots of speculation on his chances of securing the GOP nomination for 2016.
Since the Iowa Freedom Summit, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has received the most attention by the media as being the stand-out candidate and many polls have him as the front-runner among likely GOP voters.
However, having been in Iowa for a year now I've been able to attend a lot of political events where Ted Cruz was one of many present, and I think Ted Cruz is the front-runner. Three events come to mind that show his influence on the voters here in Iowa.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks at the 2014 Values Voter Summit in Washington, Friday, Sept. 26, 2014. AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta
The first event was The Family Leadership Summit last August. At an event that included favorites like Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee, my eyes nearly popped out of my head and my jaw dropped open at the standing ovation for the senator from Texas. The applause wasn't because of a great speech, it was when they introduced him!
The next event had a similar experience, the Iowa Freedom Summit. The same event that helped Scott Walker gain Fox News notoriety and had polls putting him as the front-runner opened my eyes once again to the realization that Ted Cruz is the real front-runner. With Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Bobby Jindal, Rick Perry, Chris Christie, and even Sarah Palin, Ted Cruz's standing ovation was longer and louder, during his introduction, than any of the other standing ovations from the entire day, excluding his from after his speech.
The final event was a few weeks later at the Iowa Agriculture Summit. This was an event where Ted Cruz was not expected to be welcome. Prior to the event, Iowa Gov. Branstad warned potential presidential candidates that they would have a hard time winning if they don't support ethanol and the Renewable Fuel Standard. Among those not supporting the standard is Ted Cruz, so what was his reception like?
Ted Cruz's reception at these public events has been enlightening. The reception he's received a private receptions is as well. In his many visits to Iowa, Ted Cruz has taken time out to meet with a prominent libertarian leaning group. After a meeting with them, many in this group have told me that they are seriously considering voting for Ted Cruz. He has met with evangelical groups with the same results.
I lived in Texas for nine years and still have family and many friends who live there. I spent the holidays visiting family and, of course, politics came up. When Ted Cruz's name was brought up, I was surprised to hear my Texas associations say that they didn't want Ted Cruz for president. A short time after that, I had Ted Cruz on my radio show and I sent the podcast to many of the Ted Cruz skeptics.
I received numerous responses that all had a similar message: "That was not the same Ted Cruz portrayed on TV. I'm excited to learn more about him."
In 2012, Mitt Romney virtually tied Rick Santorum in the Iowa Caucus - that was done with less than 25 percent of the vote. The 75 percent that didn't vote for Mitt Romney split their vote among other candidates.
Based on the receptions I've seen him get here in Iowa, he's succeeding because more voters are not watching how he's being portrayed, they're listening to his message.
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