Sen. Ted Cruz spoke to church leaders in Columbia, S.C. on November 4, possibly testing the Palmetto State’s waters for the next presidential election.
Texas’ freshman senator addressed about 400 preachers at a “Rediscovering God in America” event, arranged by the American Renewal Project, according to U.S. News.
While religion was to be the central theme, Cruz initially focused on political issues such as the economy and the opposing party. Credited for pushing the recent government shutdown, he told the audience that Democrats were to blame for lack of economic development in the country.
Cruz’s address did often move to the subject of faith, though. Marriage, abortion and even the role of the 10 commandments in government were brought up at the meeting, which closed after pastors laid hands on Cruz in prayer.
While the 2016 presidential election wasn’t mentioned, it was definitely implied, as it was in Cruz’s address at a state Republican Party event in May 2013 shortly after he publicly confirmed interest in the Oval Office.
Yesterday’s attendees were the same local pastors that Newt Gingrich pursued in South Carolina’s 2012 Republican presidential primary, The State reports. After meeting the church leaders twice, Gingrich went on to upset Mitt Romney in the contest.
In a recent poll of Republican voters in South Carolina conducted prior to yesterday’s visit, Cruz came in second, trailing New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie amongst potential GOP presidential candidates.
Taking 17 percent to Christie’s 19, Cruz bested Sens. Rand Paul (13) and Marco Rubio (12), and recent vice-presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan (12). Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal finished a distant last with only six percent.
Over a fifth of poll respondents (21 percent) remain undecided, according to the October 27-28 survey conducted by Harper Polling.
Cruz did lead Christie amongst Republican voters in a national poll asking respondents who they thought was current leader of the GOP, though. In Public Policy Polling’s October 29-31 study, Cruz scored 21 percent to Christie’s 17.