When Ted Cruz visited the Bronx on Wednesday he received a welcome more fitting for a Boston Red Sox slugger taking the plate at Yankee Stadium than a presidential candidate taking the stump.
The Texas Republican was heckled and derided by angry New Yorkers during a campaign stop at the Sabrosura restaurant in the Bronx with one protester getting the heave-ho from security and cheers from the crowd.
“You’re running on an anti-immigrant platform, and you’re speaking in the Bronx,” the demonstrator said, according to the New York Daily News. “You should not be here.”
When Cruz arrived at the restaurant, protesters shouted at Cruz and told him he should "get out of the Bronx."
He replied only that he was "happy to be here."
The Texas lawmaker also had his foreign language skills challenged when a reporter asked him a question in Spanish. Cruz, who appeared to understand the question, first began by answering the question in English, but was cut off by the reporter who asked him to respond in Spanish.
He said he has "the problem of the second-generation immigrant." In Spanish, Cruz told the reporter that he understands more Spanish than he speaks, noting that he spoke "Spanglish" at home when he was growing up.
Cruz also disinvited on Tuesday from a speaking engagement at the Bronx Lighthouse College Preparatory Academy after students threatened a walkout.
Cruz’s tour through the Bronx is part of his campaign’s strategy to steal New York from hometown candidate Donald Trump by winning over evangelical voters. To this end, Cruz met with state Sen. Ruben Diaz and Hispanic clergy leaders.
"We are conservative," Diaz said, according to NY1. "We are religious people. We believe what we believe. People try to put us down. The values there are two different values."
Diaz, however, has a dived family as his son – and Bronx borough president – Ruben Diaz Jr. slammed Cruz as being a hypocrite for deriding so-called “New York values” before coming to the city to campaign.
“Ted Cruz is a hypocrite. He not only offended New Yorkers, he offended Bronxites, and now he’s here today in New York and in the Bronx looking for money and votes,” Diaz Jr. said. “We in the Bronx know how offensive he’s been. We know the truth about our borough.”
Following his win in the Wisconsin, Cruz is hoping for a competitive race in New York as he fights for delegates with Trump.
Cruz won six pledged delegates during a pair of obscure, congressional-level Colorado GOP assemblies on Saturday. He is also poised to make gains in several other western Republican contests, including a possible sweep of Colorado's remaining assemblies, due to conclude Saturday. Cruz's success in the complex delegate game is helping him counter Trump's headline-grabbing wins in big states and would give the Texas senator a tactical advantage should the party's presidential nomination come down to a rare contested convention.
"Cruz is ahead of everyone on this," Republican election lawyer Ben Ginsberg said, describing Cruz's aggressive but quiet delegate strategy as "equally important" to the actual votes.
Cruz has racked up some outright popular vote victories, most recently by soundly winning Wisconsin's primary Tuesday and squeezing Trump's narrow, but achievable, path to the nomination. Still, Trump is heavily-favored in the upcoming round of northeastern primaries, especially in New York on April 19.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.