Cruz plans to spend a good chunk of the August recess traveling by bus around the South, including South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas.
Several of these states will hold primaries on March 1 in a regional primary that has been dubbed the SEC Primary after the Southeastern Conference in college football. March 1 is the first date that non-early states are allowed to schedule their contests. A candidate who wins then might get momentum going into the winner-take-all contests that begin March 15.
“I view the SEC primary as a firewall,” Cruz confided to the audience.
He explained that the first states are “critical” — that he is still playing to win in Iowa — but that Republican National Committee rules going into effect for the first time in 2016 have “sped up the process.”