With Louisiana’s 46 Republican convention delegates up for grabs Saturday, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz got in a last-minute plea for votes late Friday night, telling a crowd in Mandeville that he is the only GOP candidate who can beat the current front-runner, Donald Trump.
Cruz, who took the stage about two hours late after speeches by conservative activist Tony Perkins and reality TV star Phil Robertson, took aim at President Barack Obama and other well-known Democrats, but he saved some of his sharpest barbs for Trump, who leads Cruz by about 100 delegates going into Saturday’s primaries, according to Politico.
“It’s very easy to say he wants to ‘make America great again.’ He can even put it on a baseball cap,” Cruz said of Trump’s slogan. “But the real question is: Does he understand the principles and values that made America great in the first place?”
He also criticized Trump — who held a rally earlier in the evening in New Orleans — for comments he made this week about being “flexible.”
“In D.C., ‘flexible’ is a code word for ‘Get ready, they’re going to stick it to you,’ ” he said.
Cruz also made a play for some of the voters whose anger has fueled Trump’s campaign, saying Washington is filled with blood-sucking parasites and works only to benefit Wall Street banks and big corporations.
Trump, he said, couldn’t be trusted to maintain conservative values.
“For four decades, Donald Trump has been supporting liberal politicians. Let me be clear: I will never compromise away your religious liberty,” Cruz said, launching into an applause-generating series of statements on subjects about which he said he would not compromise, including the Second Amendment and conservative nominees for the Supreme Court.
Cruz added that nominating Trump would lead to a win for likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and mean the appointing of liberal justices to the Supreme Court and “losing the Bill of Rights for a generation.”
Cruz also used references to Obama to generate energy in the crowd, promising to “repeal every word of Obamacare” and saying the president has lowered morale in the military by restricting their rules of engagement.
He also touched on other hot-button conservative issues, such as support for Israel, abolishing the IRS and lessening regulation of the oil and gas industry.
Cruz, a Texan, said he “gets” Louisiana.
“We share the same values. We love America, we love God, we love our guns and we’re fed up,” he said.
Cruz also flashed a bit of local knowledge as he was closing his 26-minute speech, when he urged those present to vote 10 times.
“Now, I’m not Edwin Edwards,” he said to laughs. Rather, he asked those at the rally to get nine friends to vote for him, too.
Cruz was in Maine earlier in the day. Louisiana, Maine, Kansas and Kentucky all have Republican caucuses or primaries Saturday.
Advocate staff writer Jeff Adelson contributed to this report.
Follow Faimon A. Roberts III on Twitter @faimon.