Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz, a U.S. senator from Texas, says the California primary election June 7, which usually comes too late to have an impact, will this year decide his party’s nominee.
Cruz, who is trailing businessman Donald Trump in the state-by-state nominating contest, told delegates to the California Republican Convention on Saturday that the campaign would be “a battle on the ground, district by district by district.”
California Republicans will send 172 pledged delegates to the national convention in July, the most of any state. The winning candidate needs 1,237 delegates to clinch the nomination.
Cruz, Fiorina speeches
Cruz addressed California Republican leaders just hours before a speech by his announced running mate, Carly Fiorina, a former executive in the state’s high-tech center of Silicon Valley. Republican front-runner Donald Trump and Ohio Governor John Kasich, who is running a distant third, spoke Friday.
Convention attendee Eric Dillinger, a Cruz supporter, said this election is “about protecting our constitutional rights, lower taxes, helping try to get rid of the [national] debt and a strong defense.” He agrees with Cruz on every major issue.
Trump supporter Kris Kvarnstrom worries about Cruz’s conservative stand on abortion and said a President Cruz would replace retiring justices of the U.S. Supreme Court with judicial nominees that reflect his views. They could “stop abortions for the next 50 years,” she said, taking the choice out of the hands of women.
She finds Trump less ideological. A Gallup Poll April 1 found that 70 percent of American women have an unfavorable view of Trump, but Kvarnstrom is not one of them. “I feel he [Trump] is very good for women because he empowers them to be all they can be,” she said. “I like that.”
Trent Carlson, a student member of the Young Republicans group at Santa Clara University, is also wary of Cruz’s conservative positions on social issues such as abortion and gay rights. “I really do support [the more moderate] John Kasich,” he said, “but at the same time, I do like quite a lot of what Donald Trump has to say. He has really shaken up the party, and if he won the primary, I would most certainly back him.”
Julian Del Real-Calleros of Los Angeles is sticking with a candidate who trails far behind Trump and Cruz in the race. “People ask me, 'Why do you support Kasich?' ” Del Real-Calleros said. “Mathematically, he will not win the nomination. And for me, it doesn’t matter. ... I’m supporting the guy who I believe is the perfect next president.”
Del Real-Calleros, whose parents were born in Mexico, said Kasich steers clear of divisive issues such as immigration and focuses on the economy, jobs and national security — issues on which most Republicans agree.
Trump has been the target of Hispanic groups who question his plan to build a fence along the U.S.-Mexico border to stop illegal immigration. Hundreds of protesters blocked the hotel where Trump spoke Friday, and others tangled with police at a Trump rally Thursday near Los Angeles.
Volunteers for Cruz
The Cruz campaign says it has 41,000 volunteers ready to knock on doors and make phone calls to voters in California. Trump is relying on the momentum from his five-state sweep in primaries on Tuesday in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.
Trump has secured nearly 1,000 of the 1,237 pledged delegates needed for the party’s nomination, according to an Associated Press delegate count. Cruz has fewer than 600 but could gain enough in coming races to derail a Trump sweep in a contested convention.
California’s 172 delegates will be awarded to candidates by congressional district, regardless of who wins the statewide vote.
The candidates will next face off Tuesday in Indiana, a state with 57 delegates at stake, which Cruz also calls critical to his effort to stop Trump.