There was a lot of love for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz inside the Mekeel Christian Academy gymnasium Thursday morning. As for elsewhere in New York, we’ll have to wait until New York’s April 19 primary and see.
Republican presidential candidate Cruz appeared at a campaign rally of nearly 1,000 supporters, and while his popularity in New York, according to the Monmouth University poll numbers released Tuesday, isn’t that impressive, the conservative Texan spoke for about 30 minutes like a man convinced he would wrestle the nomination from frontrunner Donald Trump. Defeating Trump in New York’s primary, however, doesn’t seem likely. Trump is expected to make an appearance in Albany Monday night, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, currently in third place in the Republican presidential race, will be at the Saratoga Springs City Center on Monday at 5:30 p.m. with doors opening at 4:30 p.m., according to his campaign website.
“I want you all to go out and vote 10 times,” said Cruz, drawing laughter from the crowd. “Now I’m not a Democrat so I’m not asking you to do anything illegal. But if you go home, pick up the phone and call nine people, it will be like 10 votes. A Fox News poll came out two days ago and had me leading Hillary [Clinton] 47 to 43 percent in a general election. If we nominate Trump, Hillary will win by double digits. If I’m the nominee, I will beat Hillary.”
After his convincing victory in the Wisconsin primary on Tuesday, Cruz has a total of 517 delegates to Trump’s 743. In the Monmouth Poll, he not only trails Trump by a considerable margin in New York, he’s also behind Kasich. The Monmouth numbers have Trump with 52 percent of the Republican vote in New York, Kasich with 25 and Cruz with 17.
In the delegate count, Kasich is well behind Cruz with just 143 delegates.
“There are only two Republican candidates with a plausible path to the nomination,” Cruz told his supporters. “I’m looking for people who are thinking about jobs, freedom and security. It’s easy to talk about making America great again. You can even put it on baseball caps. But Donald Trump isn’t going to get the nomination. If I’m the nominee, we will beat Hillary and America will see morning again.”
Cruz brought up just about every aspect of the presidential campaign Thursday, including his rivals from both political parties. He also mentioned the current president, Barack Obama.
“When I am in the White House, we will repeal every word of Obamacare,” said Cruz, drawing a roar of approval from the crowd. “We will pass common sense and affordable health care reform, making it affordable for millions of Americans. I am so proud to be in a room with so many freedom-loving people. God bless you.”
Cruz also talked about abolishing the Internal Revenue Service and instituting a simple flat tax, bringing Common Core to an end and eliminating sanctuary cities.
“I think he delivered a powerful message,” said Peter Guidarelli, a Republican and a former candidate for Schenectady mayor. “It not only was appealing to the Republican base, but also independent voters. He delivered a message of creating jobs, less government and was pro liberty, and I don’t think it was just a message for this crowd. It was a message that was delivered very effectively for all of America.”
Guidarelli stopped short of endorsing Cruz, something Schenectady County Republican Committee Chairman Mike Cuevas did earlier this week.
“This is a very important day for all of us,” said Cuevas, who introduced Cruz to the crowd. “There are storm clouds gathering, and not just across the seas but also across America. People are concerned about our security, our safety, and the direction our country is going. I know there is someone who can put us at ease. I trust Ted Cruz.”
State Sen. George Amedore, who hasn’t endorsed Cruz, and Ballston Republican Jim Fischer, who has, were both at Thursday’s rally. Assemblyman Jim Tedisco, R-Glenville, was at home with the flu.
“I haven’t endorsed anyone yet, and I’m still listening to what everyone is saying,” Tedisco said by phone. “I’m waiting to hear all the candidates, and I’m hoping I feel well enough to listen to Donald Trump on Monday. I just don’t want to hear the issues. I want to hear their solutions to the issues.”
Fischer, meanwhile, who has a son that attends Mekeel Christian Academy, thought the event was a smashing success.
“I think the response was fantastic,” said Fischer, who ran unsuccessfuly in 2014 for Paul Tonko’s seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. “It was a great turnout, great energy. We’re hoping Cruz will exceed expectations in New York, especially in upstate New York. There’s a good chance we can keep Trump under that 50 percent number. For those of us supporting Cruz, that’s very important.”
Glenville Town Supervisor Chris Koetzle stopped short of endorsing Cruz, but he certainly liked what we heard.
“I was his driver so we spent some time together talking about our families and his vision for America,” said Koetzle. “He talked about why he’s in the race, and he asked me a lot of questions about Glenville. He was very interested in the community and wondered what were the big issues for local government in this area.
“I’m going to wait and at least listen to what Donald Trump has to say,” continued Koetzle. “We haven’t heard anything about Kasich showing up yet, but I really don’t see how he has a path to the nomination. I think Kasich is essentially irrelevant at this point.”
Koetzle opened Thursday’s event by leading the pledge of alliance, and then gave the floor to Rev. Jason J. McGuire, president of the New Yorker’s Family Research Foundation. McGuire, who offered a prayer after the pledge of alliance, said following the rally that Cruz was the best person to lead the country, despite what the New York polls may indicate.
“I think he’s actually doing well for New York, and remember this is a national race,” said McGuire, whose group officially endorsed Cruz on Wednesday. “This is a very exciting time, and we put together this great event with very short notice. When Ted Cruz talked about New York values, we understand he was talking about Andrew Cuomo and Mayor [Bill] de Blasio. It’s still too early to see. When more New Yorkers get to know him they’ll like him.”
Mekeel Christian Academy Principal Chad Bowman said the decision to host the rally was an easy one to make.
“Tuesday morning I got a call giving me a tip that I might get another call from Washington,” said Bowman. “Twenty minutes later I got that call. I checked with the proper people and we put the wheels in motion. I thought it was a great opportunity, especially for an educational institution, to give the students a political experience like this. We don’t endorse anyone at Mekeel Academy, but we do endorse the political process. We love the idea of helping people educate themselves so they are informed voters when they head into the voting booth.”
Reach Gazette reporter Bill Buell at 395-3190 or firstname.lastname@example.org.