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Students volunteer at Ted Cruz rally

| Saturday, April 30, 2016

Just five days before the Indiana presidential primaries, Ted Cruz paid a visit to South Bend to rally voters in pursuit of a crucial win in the race for the Republican nomination.

Junior Dylan Stevenson, who attended the rally for the Texas senator at the Century Center on Thursday, said the place was “buzzing” with excitement and enthusiasm.

“You had elderly people there, people with families,” Stevenson, vice president of College Republicans, said. “You had men and women, people of all shapes and sizes. It was a really diverse group. I’m guessing there were several principles that united the crowd, but if you were to see these people wandering around the store, you wouldn’t think they necessarily were to share political beliefs.”

Fresh off a series of losses on the East Coast, Cruz seeks to defeat frontrunner Donald Trump in what has been deemed a deciding state primary by analysts. If Trump wins Indiana, he will likely secure the 1,237 votes needed the win the Republican delegate majority.

Freshman Isabel Teixeira said Cruz discussed the unusual amount of power and responsibility held by Hoosier voters, as the Indiana primaries are often held too late to have a significant effect on national level.

“The fact that Indiana is such a big deal this year shows what a weird election this is and what a divided election it is,” she said.

Teixeira and freshman Lizzie Cameron said their biggest reason for attending the rally was to see Carly Fiorina in one of her first public appearances since being named Cruz’s running mate this past Wednesday.

“There’s no one I really feel strongly about voting for, so we decided to go check out Cruz to see what he’s like,” Cameron said. “I like Carly a lot, and she talked about how close [she and Cruz] have grown and how he’s a really good, hardworking guy.”

Cruz’s speech was catered for an Indiana audience and focused on three main points — jobs and wages, freedom and security, sophomore John Kill said.

“At the moment, he was speaking to people in South Bend, but I think his audience at large was the people of Indiana,” he said. “The points he spoke to are the things Indiana conservatives, generally really care about and want to protect.”

Junior Pat Crane, president of College Republicans, said Cruz put an emphasis Indiana jobs, particularly manufacturing jobs, which are being outsourced to other countries.

“Touching on what really has been Trump’s line this whole time, we really want to bring these jobs back,” he said. “He was laying out an effective strategy for that.”

In terms of freedom, Crane said Cruz promoted a return to a “Constitutional outlook” on life. Cruz also touched on religious liberty, a relevant topic in light of Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act passed in 2015, Kill said.

Stevenson said the senator looks to increase and strengthen national security in line with typical Republican platforms.

“He’s going to rebuild the military so it’s not depleted, so it can take on radical Islam,” he said. “It’s a peace through strength sort of strategy.”

Kill said Cruz made a point to differentiate himself as the “true conservative” candidate.

“Not only did he say Donald Trump wasn’t a conservative, but he said he was just the masculine version of Hilary Clinton,” Kill said.

“I think that was his point — not just to the people in South Bend that were there, but to his general audience in Indiana — that look, you know, the election is coming down to here,” he said. “You’re either going to vote for me, or you’re going to vote for Donald Trump. And a vote for Donald Trump is basically a vote for Hilary Clinton.”

Kill plans to intern for the Texas senator this summer in his Houston office. Although he will not be involved in the campaign process, Kill said he will support Cruz in the presidential race.

“I resonate with a lot of the things he said. … He’s a good family man, comes from a background that shows the importance of hard work and dedication to your family, to your country, to values and principles that I support,” he said.

Stevenson said roughly 25 College Republicans members volunteered at the rally.

“The energy was great. People started chanting ‘Ted’ part-way through,” he said. “There was really good energy, just overall a really good event. I don’t know what the Trump event will be like, but it’ll be tough to top that.”

Cruz is not the only candidate targeting South Bend — Bernie Sanders will host a rally at Century Center on Sunday, while Trump is set to visit the same location Monday.

Crane said he hopes to get a similar Notre Dame crowd for the Trump campaign.

“That volunteer work is something we want to keep up, whether or not the nominee is Cruz,” he said. “You know, either way, we really want to support the nominee.”

Kill said the University’s political atmosphere is sure to provide a stimulating forum for students as the 2016 election draws nearer.

“Being here at Notre Dame, the combination of being Catholic and being millennials, that whole mix of things makes it a very interesting political climate. We’re not a left-leaning school, we’re not a right-leaning school — we’re somewhere in the middle,” he said.

Associate News Editor Rachel O’Grady contributed to this story.

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About Katie Galioto

Katie, The Observer's former Managing Editor, is a senior majoring in political science, with minors in Business Economics and Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. She's an ex-Walsh Hall resident who now lives off campus and hails from Chanhassen, Minnesota. Follow her on Twitter @katiegalioto.

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