In speech before Calif. GOP, Cruz hits key issues of jobs, over regulation

GOP presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz on Saturday made his pitch to California Republicans, saying their June primary will decide the GOP presidential race and vowing to “bring back jobs” while also protecting the state’s land and water-- vital to the state economy.

“We can have a win-win scenario, protect the environment and protect jobs,” said Cruz, arguing the state has lost 1,700 jobs as a result of “misguided regulations.”

In his speech at the California GOP convention, outside of San Francisco, Cruz repeatedly invoked the name of Ronald Reagan, the California governor who became president. And he said that “California is going to decide this Republican primary. … It’s going to be a battle on the ground, district by district.”

The Texas senator trails front-runner Donald Trump 996-to-565 in the national contest to get 1,237 delegates and secure the party nomination before the GOP’s July nominating convention.

And with 172 GOP delegates at stake in California’s June 7 primary, the race could indeed determine whether Trump reaches 1,237.

Cruz and his campaign on Saturday also hit Trump over his support for California Democratic politicians, including sending out a statement saying the billionaire businessman has given thousands of dollars to “extreme liberals” such as Gov. Jerry Brown and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom.

However, Cruz also focused his attacks on Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton, saying: “Clinton wins, and the country is lost.”

Trump told those attending the convention Friday that he’s now winning “landslides” in primaries across the country.

To be sure, Trump won big earlier this month in New York, his home state, then swept in five Northeast primaries on Tuesday.

And he appears poised to do well in California. Trump leads Cruz 45.7-to-28.3 percent in the state race, according to the RealClearPolitics polls average.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, the third GOP presidential candidate, spoke Saturday at a town hall event in San Jose, Calif. He told the Silicon Valley-centric crowd that as governor he added more than 350,000 jobs, after Ohio had been losing hundreds of thousands of them.

“That’s such a big deal to me, giving people a chance to work” said Kasich, who has 153 delegates and whose only hope of winning the GOP nomination is with a contested convention.

Meanwhile, Cruz’s wife, Heidi, and Cruz running-mate Carly Fiorina, who has strong California ties, were stumping for Cruz in Indiana, which on Tuesday holds a key primary.

Heidi Cruz promised a crowd in Plainfield, Ind., that her husband would “restore constitutional freedom” and return power to states.

Even Cruz has acknowledged his success in the Indiana primary will likely determine the future of the GOP nominating race.

Kasich has essentially bowed out of that primary to allow Cruz to win and slow Trump’s roll.

In an effort this week to regain momentum, Cruz picked Fiorina, a former 2016 GOP presidential candidate, and picked up endorsements from Indiana Republican Gov. Mike Pence and former California GOP Gov. Pete Wilson.

Still, Trump still appears to hold a slight lead in Indiana, 37.5-to-35.2 percent. There are 57 GOP delegates at stake in the state.

Cruz was not greeted Saturday by the protests that confronted Trump, who was forced to enter the convention hotel, in Burlingame, Calif., through a back entrance.

“That was not the easiest entrance I’ve ever made,” Trump said at the time. “It felt like I was crossing the border actually.”

The bulk of his speech was otherwise standard Trump fare, as the front-runner blasted what he called a “rigged” delegate system while mocking Cruz as having “no path to victory.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.