Californians are thrilled at the prospect of having their votes actually matter during the presidential primary season, especially when every delegate is critical.

So many Republicans in the southern California area headed to various rallies yesterday to see aspirant Senator Ted Cruz. I joined two of our local Tea Party bloggers (W.C. Varones and Left Coast Rebel) and 2000 other interested voters at his San Diego event yesterday.

Both of my Tea Party compatriots are unhappy with the thought of Donald Trump’s nomination. However, they had reservations about the Cruz style of speaking, and whether he could put a “human touch” on his policy proposals. Both were pleasantly surprised by the Texas Senator’s speech, rich in humor and insights on his platform of “Jobs, Freedom, Security.”

I must admit, my favorite portion of the speech was when he talked about dismantling the Environmental Protection Agency. However, the proposal to go to a flat tax and jettison the Internal Revenue Service was a very close second.

Having the quintessential Tea Party presidential candidate shutter the IRS would be a dream-come-true.

However, Cruz still needs to win the Republican nomination. To do so, he is going to have to face a gauntlet of Trump supporters. About two dozen protesters, a blend of Trumpsters and the usual progressive suspects, were stationed in front of the Town and Country Conference Center, expressing their disdain.

IMG_2437

I was curious to see if the Craigslist hire-a-mob gang would show up, or of there would be any #BlackLivesMatter drama. There was an interruption about half-way through Cruz’ address, but I couldn’t determine which set of nuts had been unleashed. Someone who had a vantage point had this to report:

[Cruz] didn’t hear what was shouted, but the 45-year-old Tea Party favorite responded to the crowd’s drown-out chants of “Ted Cruz, Ted Cruz” by saying: “Apparently there’s a Bernie Sanders rally outside. By the way, you know the easiest way to clear out a Bernie Sanders rally? Just tell them they’ve gotta get a job.”

Vanessa Murguiax, working for I Heart Radio and a Carl DeMaio KOGO show, said she and a colleague saw a group of one man and four women yelling “Undocumented, undocumented” before leaving of their own accord.

Talking to the participants prior to the speech, several of the attendees were undecided between Trump and Cruz. I chatted with a couple in line, and the husband said he came to “get the measure of the man.” While he was impressed with Trump’s leadership skills and willingness to battle race-baiters, he wasn’t sure about the depth of his conservatism.

The wife had nothing but contempt for the Trump style, calling him “rude.”

I also talked with an avid Cruz supporter, Rebecca. She has been a fan of the Senator since the start of his campaign.

“What impresses me about Cruz the most is how he has acted as Senator,” she explained. “There were many who came in as Tea Party, but they fell away, one-by-one. Cruz has been the most consistent, the most willing to directly challenge the establishment. I feel that I know who I am voting for, and that he is a great strategist who can figure out how to get what needs to be done actually done.”

In fact, the Cruz strategy of working on the delegate counts and developing robust state organizations shows that long-term planning and strategic thinking.

At this point, Cruz as well as many parts of the GOP establishment aren’t trying so much to clinch Cruz the nominee as deny it to Trump.

If they’re successful, in most cases after the first round of voting at the convention Trump’s pledged supporters can change their vote to other candidates. Cruz has been working the states to find delegates who, if they must go for Trump at the outset, will back him in subsequent convention votes.

The crowd who listened to the speech was very diverse, in terms of age and ethnicity. Once fascinating moment came when I observed members of the local press try to interview every non-white person in line, skipping over those who didn’t meet their racial template.

Yes, the press has a gift of making everything about race, which has been honed to perfection during the nearly eight years of Obama’s “Reign of Error.”

The success of Cruz in connecting with people during the rally was shown by observing the young son of one of my fellow bloggers. He listened intently during the entire address, and was clearly excited that dad was going to vote for Cruz after.

Out of the mouth of babes!