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In Kannapolis Event, Cruz Says Donald Trump Can't Beat Hillary Clinton

Robert Lahser
Charlotte Observer
Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz speaks during a rally at Central Baptist Church in Kannapolis March 08, 2016.

With the North Carolina primary less than a week away, the presidential candidates are making campaign stops around the state. On Monday, Republican Donald Trump held a rally in Concord and Hillary Clinton visits the state Thursday. Tuesday, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz campaigned at a church in Kannapolis.

An hour before Ted Cruz was set to speak, Lafa Coleman was waiting. She was part of a long line that stretched around Central Baptist Church in the bright sun. She’s the type of voter Cruz is trying to reach – someone who had been thinking of voting for Donald Trump. Now, she wears a Cruz for president button.

Credit Gwendolyn Glenn/WFAE
People wait in long line for Ted Cruz rally at Central Baptist Church in Kannapolis

“He seems to have good moral values,” Coleman said. “He is for the Constitution and for so many things that most common people want these days. He’s for the family, the church and for our keeping our guns and keeping the country safe again.”

Some in the crowd want a showdown between Cruz and Trump. They’re confident Cruz can beat Trump if Marco Rubio and John Kasich drop out. Inside the church, Cruz seemed to agree.

“There’s only one campaign that has beaten Donald Trump repeatedly, seven different times in states all over this country,” Cruz said. “Maybe you’re now supporting Marco Rubio, or John Kasich, every one of them I like and respect and yet none of them has any viable path to beating Donald Trump and becoming the Republican nominee.”

Part of Cruz’s message was that conservatives can’t trust Trump. He noted donations that Trump has given to Democratic candidates over years. President Jimmy Carter and Hillary Clinton are two examples.

Cruz argued that a Republican nomination for Trump marks the easiest path for Hillary Clinton to win the presidency.

Credit Gwendolyn Glenn/WFAE
Lafa Coleman waits in line to hear Ted Cruz speak at rally in Kannapolis.

“Hillary beats Trump and beats him badly, which means if we nominate Donald Trump, we lose the Supreme Court for a generation, the bill of rights for a generation, our children drown in debt. If we are divided, he wins the nomination and Hillary becomes president. If we unite, that ain’t gonna happen,” Cruz said to applause.

Cruz was speaking to a nearly all-white crowd, although diverse in age and gender.

He went on to push his familiar campaign talking points--an end to the IRS, enacting a flat tax, repealing the Affordable Health Care Act, reigning in the EPA and other regulators and securing the borders to stop illegal immigration.

After the speech, Charlotte businessman Stephen Waldner said he liked other points Cruz made, such as, “How we spend our money, how we reduce the size of government, support the military and how we must shrink the size of government.”

But Cruz hasn’t convinced Waldner yet. Cruz still has a lot work to do. The polls have him roughly 10 points behind Trump in next week’s North Carolina primary.