ELECTIONS

Melania Trump, Cruz hit trail as surrogates for Donald

Melania lays out her agenda as potential first lady

 

Melania Trump and Ted Cruz both made their post-convention debut as Donald Trump surrogates on the campaign trail Thursday -- though the Texas senator and former primary contender did so without mentioning the GOP nominee by name at his initial appearance.

Cruz joined Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence on the campaign trail in Prole, Iowa, a month and a half after he posted a tepid endorsement of Trump on Facebook.  

“This election has been one wild ride, but the stakes in this election have never been higher,” Cruz told the audience. He noted that maintaining GOP control of Congress and “putting a Republican in the White House” amounted to the “whole enchilada.”

Standing at a podium with a Trump-Pence logo, Cruz praised several Iowa Republicans, including Rep. Steve King and Sen. Charles Grassley, but did not name Trump.

Cruz did mention Trump at a later stop in Michigan, telling the crowd in Portage, "You oughta vote for Donald Trump and Mike Pence and Republicans up and down the ticket." 

In Iowa and Michigan, Cruz delivered his pitch to the base, while Melania Trump made her first solo appearance in suburban Philadelphia, where Donald Trump is trailing Clinton. 

“He knows how to make real change. Make America great again is not just a slogan,” she said, adding that as first lady she would be an advocate for women and children.

Despite her husband’s reputation for frank, sometimes crude talk, the native of Slovenia focused on family issues saying that the “culture has gotten too mean and rough.”

Prior to her address, the Pennsylvania state Democratic Party sent out a copy of an old Michelle Obama speech that was labeled as an “advanced copy” of Melania’s speech, a reference to allegations of plagiarism that emerged after her Republican National Convention speech.

Cruz and Melania Trump are the latest in a growing pool of surrogates campaigning for Trump, as Hillary Clinton deploys influential Democrats ranging from President Obama to Bernie Sanders to the trail. 

“Surrogates can be very helpful in the final days of the campaign when it is far more important to energize and excite voters than to persuade them,” Republican campaign strategist Chris Jankowski told FoxNews.com.

“I think it would have been wiser to have heard more from Ivanka and Melania all throughout September and October. This speech may have some impact ... but I am doubtful that it will have enough of an impact,” Sarah Lenti, a Colorado-based Republican consultant, added. 

In battleground states where the margins are narrowing, the surrogates are making the biggest showing. 

Michigan, which has not voted for a Republican candidate for president since President George H. W. Bush in 1988, is such a case.

A Fox2/Mitchell poll released on Wednesday showed Clinton’s lead in the Great Lakes state has narrowed to 3 percent. 

The week began with Trump rallying on Monday, while Donald Trump Jr. arrived mid-week to make stops at Michigan State University and Grand Valley State University. Ivanka Trump appealed to suburban women voters during a “Michigan Women in Business Roundtable” event.

Not new to the role of surrogate, Obama fired up a Florida crowd with a feisty speech that went off-script as much as Trump.

“This is the guy who spent 70 years -- his whole life -- born with a silver spoon, showing no respect for working people. He’s spent a lot of time with celebrities,” Obama told the audience in Miami.

But Trump, the president said, does not hang out with working people unless they’re cleaning his room or mowing the fairways. 

“You’re going to make this guy your champion if you’re a working person?” he asked the crowd.

FoxNews.com's Jennifer Hickey and Dan Gallo contributed to this report.