By Brett Houser
WINTERSET, Iowa – Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz told a crowd of supporters Monday night that a president who doesn’t ask God for daily wisdom and support isn’t fit for the job.
Cruz appeared with Dr. James Dobson, founder of the evangelical Christian organization, Focus on the Family, a man Time magazine called the nation’s most influential evangelical leader. Dobson conducted an apparently rehearsed interview with Cruz, allowing the candidate to highlight his conservative values.
“The budget is so bad the pipes are leaking,” Cruz joked, when the conversation was interrupted by water dripping from the ceiling.
Cruz appealed heavily to the evangelical, conservative Iowans at the event whose caucus votes would increase his chances of winning Iowa.
“The persecution of religious liberty ends today,” Cruz said, pointing a fist to the floor as the other rested on his blue jean clad hip.
A pamphlet available to attendees emphasized Cruz’s efforts to protect religious rights with little reference to other campaign issues.
Iowan Jonathan Bomer, who described himself as a devout Catholic, said that he supports Cruz because of his strong faith.
“Ted Cruz is a man of God. That is what’s most important, and it is why he will be our next president.”
The event began with a prayer by local pastor Gary Pilcher, delivered to a standing crowd, heads bowed.
“Especially Lord, tonight we thank you for Ted Cruz,” he prayed.
An area family, the Bontragers, warmed up the gathering, playing folksy songs written for Cruz’s campaign such as “In God We Still Trust” and “A Time For Truth,” which is also the title of Cruz’s book.
Matt Schultz, Cruz’s Iowa chairman, endorsed the Texas senator’s devotion to family values.
“When I looked at Ted Cruz, I knew he was the guy,” Schultz, a father of five, said. “I knew he was the one who would stand up and fight for me and my family.”
Iowa Rep. Steve King, who said he has not endorsed a candidate in eight years, said he supports Cruz because he believes the senator will lead America righteously.
Dobson ended the dialogue by acknowledging that there has never been a pro-life first lady.
“We’ve got a chance to get one this time,” Dobson said, in reference to Cruz’s spouse, Heidi.
Cruz shook hands and posed for pictures with supporters for nearly 45 minutes after the event.
“God Bless you, Senator Cruz,” a woman remarked as she shook the senator’s hand.