2016-02-03 / Political Page

Iowa Caucus

Cruz Defeats Trump, Rubio Close Behind
BY JOHN TOSCANO

US Senator Ted Cruz defeated Donald Trump in the Iowa caucuses on Monday and Trump narrowly beat Senator Marco Rubio, who staged a very improved performance in the nation’s first contest to select a Republican presidential nominee.

It was Trump’s first setback since he entered the political arena last year and dominated presidential debates and the political scene generally.

The vote was Cruz 28% Trump 24% and Rubio 23%. Cruz, the most conservative lawmaker in the Senate, spent the past two years in Iowa building support among a large group of evangelical Christian religious leaders that are politically active in that state.

The presidential road show now moves to New Hampshire for its Republican presidential primary next Tuesday. Polls show Trump comfortably ahead there.

Assisted by his Cuban-born father, Rafael, a pastor, he won the support of many church members who joined his campaign and brought in others to help contact voters.

In short order, he had overtaken Trump in Iowa polls and shortly thereafter Trump started the talking campaign that Cruz couldn’t be president because he had not been born in the US.

At about the same time, a story in The New York Times out of Washington reported that “four of America’s wealthiest businessmen” had committed $36 million to Cruz’ campaign and had sponsored rallies in Iowa featuring Cruz and conservative personality Glenn Beck.

Cruz had met his benefactors two years before at a donor’s home in Palm Beach, Florida, which led to a future meeting at one donor’s home in Texas.

Before Cruz announced he was officially entering the race for the Republican presidential nomination, Trump kept him at arm’s length, as he did with all others in that grouping. But as soon as Cruz formally entered the race, thus directly challenging Trump, Trump almost immediately raised questions about Cruz not being qualified to be president because he was not born in the United States.

Cruz, instead, made the argument that his mother was a US citizen, automatically making him a citizen when she gave birth to him in Canada. Cruz also intimated that he, a lawyer, had checked the legality of his situation, and he insisted he was qualified to serve as president if elected. But Trump continued to maintain Cruz should get a legal opinion, because Democrats would also challenge him if he got elected.

Trump continued to insist he was right, and he became more insistent when Cruz passed him in the polls in Iowa last November.

Cruz, one of the most strident conservatives among that group that controls the Senate, staked his candidacy against Trump in Iowa based upon his popularity in that state with the large population of evangelical Christians living there. It also helped in aligning himself with this group for whom his father is also a pastor.

Cruz was endorsed by several pastors in various locations throughout Iowa and group members helped to recruit others to help the 45-year-old lawmaker, who spent a year among them prior to the start of his campaign there.

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