Ted Cruz's momentum is gaining in Iowa — and he could win the votes of Christian conservatives during the state's caucuses in February.
"I do sense he is picking up a lot of steam in Iowa," Royce Phillips, founding pastor of Tabernacle Baptist Church near Iowa City, told The Des Moines Register.
"I don’t think many people think deep down that Donald Trump is going to be one of the final players.
"I liken him to a blocking fullback — clearing people out of the way — but he’s not going to be the one that scores the touchdown," Phillips said of the front-runner in the race for the GOP nomination. "A smaller, faster player walks through that hole."
Cruz, the first-term Texas senator and tea party conservative, is now only 3.4 points behind Trump in the Real Clear Politics average
of Iowa polls.
, he's still at No. 2, but by 13.8 points. Cruz has moved ahead as voters turn from retired pediatric neurosurgeon Ben Carson amid concerns about his inexperience in national security and foreign affairs.
Iowa holds its caucuses on Feb. 1 in the first contest of the 2016 election cycle.
Cruz has stepped up his campaign in the Hawkeye State as the contest draws near, the Register reports. He made 14 stops in the state over three days last week.
On Thursday, the senator was endorsed by
Bob Vander Plaats, a top Christian conservative in the state who heads the Family Leader organization that opposes abortion rights and same-sex marriage.
Despite the momentum, longtime Sen. Chuck Grassley told the Register that Cruz's victory in the state is not certain.
"I’ve heard for a month that he seems to have a pretty-good plan to get faithful people to come to the caucuses," he said. "He may be benefiting from people who very much like Dr. Carson but feel he’s not associated with government close enough in these times with all this terrorism going on.
"It's too early to say whether he could win Iowa."
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