Texas Sen. Ted Cruz isn't atop the GOP presidential primary polls in the early voting states, but he is working on a strategy he hopes will propel him to the top as eight Southern states vote on March 1.
While other candidates court voters in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, Cruz is currently on a bus tour through states that will vote in the "SEC Primary," so named for the college football prominence of the Southeastern Conference.
Cruz is far more organized in the region that most of his rivals, Politico notes.
Most of the states involved in the March 1 vote have traditionally waited later in the season, some as late as June, making the region far less influential in the primary season.
"Anyone who wants to win the nomination had better try to compete in the SEC primary, because any candidate who comes through Super Tuesday and gets blown out is likely to suffer a fatal blow," Cruz told Politico. "Right now there are very few other candidates investing the time, there are very few other candidates putting in place the leadership teams, the grassroots organizations" in the region.
But Cruz told Politico he isn't ignoring the early-voting states and is aiming for good showings there to propel him into the SEC Primary.
"If you look at the states in the SEC primary … all are conservative states. All are heavily evangelical states. All have a strong military and veteran presence. All are passionate about Second Amendment rights," Cruz told Politico. "And what we are finding is that my record as a consistent conservative is resonating powerfully throughout the March 1 states."
that Cruz received "hoops and hollering" at a Birmingham, Alabama stop when he cracked jokes about the Alabama-Auburn football rivalry, but support wasn't strong.
Many in the state expressed a liking for retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who has visited Alabama many times already.
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