ALBANY – Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz used an upstate Christian school as a setting to begin reaching out to upstate voters, especially evangelical voters he has successfully wooed in other states.
“I will not compromise away your religious liberties, and I will not compromise away your Second Amendment rights to keep and bear arms,” Cruz said Thursday morning.
Cruz, a U.S. senator from Texas, made his remarks to about 1,300 people at the Mekeel Christian Academy in Scotia, an Albany suburb, in the first of his upstate stops where his campaign hopes to gain traction with evangelical Christians.
Cruz lags behind Donald Trump, a native New Yorker, in most polls ahead of the state’s April 19 primary.
The 30-minute address was a standard Cruz stump speech, where he again talked of abolishing Obamacare, passing a flat tax, ending welfare benefits for illegal immigrants and abolishing the Internal Revenue Service.
Cruz offered the obligatory New York shout-outs.
“God bless the great state of New York,” Cruz said, a day after defending his comments earlier this year when he attacked what he called “New York values.”
The Cruz camp on Wednesday said he will be appearing in Buffalo next week. Details have not yet been released.
In his Thursday appearance, Cruz made no mention of GOP opponent Ohio Gov. John Kasich, but focused his attacks on delegate front-runner Trump. He blasted Trump for financially supporting New York Democrats like Gov. Andrew Cuomo and U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer.
As standard for Cruz speeches, he warned of the nation being “one liberal justice away from a radical, leftist Supreme Court.”
A person in the audience shouted, “Don’t pick Andrew Cuomo.” Cruz paused and said, “OK, you’ve convinced me.”
Cruz knew his audience.
“We will protect your constitutional right to live according to your faith and your conscience without government getting in the way,” he said.
In a state where the workforce has the highest percentage of unionized employees, Cruz spoke of concerns about stagnant wages.
And he accused the media of favoring Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton, saying the media “wants to see a contest between two New York liberals who agree on Washington being the center of the universe.”