In Texas and North Carolina, Ted Cruz proves he's a favorite of conservatives

Sen. Ted Cruz’s wide appeal among conservatives was in high gear this weekend as he got rock star treatment at Texas and North Carolina events.

Of six GOP presidential contenders who appeared at an evangelical gathering at the campus of a 7,000-seat mega-church in Texas, Cruz was clearly the favorite, frequently interrupted by cheers and standing ovations.

And he was the winner of the North Carolina Tea Party Constitutional Caucus, in which he won 51 percent of the statewide vote, according to The Hill.

Cruz’s popularity among conservatives is no accident.

He has diligently courted evangelicals and Tea Party members for years, and takes the lead on some of the issues that are most vital to them.

At events, the Texas lawmaker thunders his opposition to gay marriage and commitment to defunding Planned Parenthood.

Of the Tea Party straw vote where Cruz beat out other candidates, The Hill quoted the senator as saying in a statement: “North Carolina is an important state for the Republican primary, and our campaign will continue to build our team in the Tar Heel state to ensure our campaign is competitive.”

“The Tea Party will be instrumental in helping to organize and elect a strong constitutional conservative and I am honored to receive their support,” said Cruz, who scooped up 51 percent of the votes.

Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson came in second in the Tea Party survey, with 42 percent. The other GOP candidates got less than 1 percent, The Hill said.

Carson also got a warm reception at the Texas megachurch event, where many in the crowd held his books, Politico said.

Others at the Texas gathering were former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Carly Fiorina, Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee.

When he spoke in Texas, Cruz said that religious liberty was under siege and reminded the crowd about how he waged legal fights to protect religion when he was the state’s solicitor general, according to Politico.

When he was done with his speech, Jack Graham, the pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church said: “My goodness, you know how to fire people up. You could be a preacher.”

Cruz responded: “It’s even worse, I’m a PK,” short for “preacher’s kid.”

When Carson spoke, he railed against abortion, saying that as a doctor who had done operations on babies inside a mother’s womb, “There’s no way anybody’s ever going to convince me that’s a mass of cells that isn’t a human being.”

Fiorina spoke about how faith had helped her get through breast cancer, burying her step-daughter, Politico said.

“Though it all the love of my family and my personal relationship with Jesus Christ has seen me through,” she said.

Bush spoke about how his faith was a driving factor in many of his actions as Florida governor involving, for example, defunding Planned Parenthood, creating school voucher programs and banning partial-birth abortion.

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