Talking passionately about the Consitution, Ted Cruz is hoping to woo libertarian voters in Nevada who might previously have backed Rand Paul.
Down the road from the Chicken Ranch brothel and the now-defunct Kingdom Gentleman’s Club, past the sign declaring guns and ammo for sale, and another sign for ammo that advised passers by, Defend What’s Yours, Ted Cruz stood atop a pick-up truck, rallying about 300 potential supporters in a parking lot across from a joint laundromat-car wash.
“We have Pahrump values!” a local man introducing Cruz bellowed from the bed of the pick-up. “What are Pahrump values? We support the constitution,” he said to cheers. “We love the Second Amendment,” he called out, to even bigger cheers.
And, prompting the loudest cheers yet: “We want our land back from the government!”
Cruz is hoping to woo these libertarian-minded voters, an active group in Nevada Republican politics, and bring them into his camp for Tuesday’s caucuses. And Pahrump is a prime place to do that. About an hour’s drive west of Las Vegas, the town sits in Nye County, one of the two counties that Ron Paul won in the 2012 caucuses, making it a prime target for the Cruz campaign. Ron Paul won a toal of 6,175 votes in the 2012 Nevada caucuses, which put him in a distant third place behind Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich.
But, in 2016, Nevada is the Wild West when it comes to political prognosticating. No one, including presidential-campaign operatives, quite knows what’s going to happen. Nevada Republicans, though, believe that Cruz is in a battle for second place with Marco Rubio. And with no clear front-runner like Romney was in 2012, a mere 6,175 votes could make a big difference.
Cruz’s campaign knows this: Pahrump was the candidate’s first stop in the state on Sunday after the South Carolina primary.
The speech he delivered there was different from the faith-focused speech he had been giving for the past ten days in South Carolina. Here, he focused heavily on the Constitution, ticking through the amendments that stir the most passionate response from libertarian voters.
“We need to defend the Second Amendment,” Cruz said, touting his efforts to push back against proposed background-check legislation in 2013. “Standing shoulder to shoulder with my friend Rand Paul and millions of Americans, we led the fight defending the Second Amendment. . . . We need to defend our rights to privacy — the Fourth and Fifth Amendments.” “And we need to defend the Tenth Amendment. . . . The powers not given to the federal government are reserved for the states,” he went on.
That sentiment has particularly resonance in Nevada, where 83 percent of the land is controlled by the federal government. Many Nevadans feel strongly that land should be returned to state control, and Cruz has said he agrees.
Cruz’s campaign is running an ad against Donald Trump for saying the federal government should continue to control the land.
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