Cruz has spent the last several days defending himself on all sides, from Trump and Marco Rubio to the pro-ethanol lobby and GOP governor Terry Branstad. He’s found himself looking for support in small, rural corners of the state that ought to be already solidly in his corner. He’s been forced to defend a shady last-minute get-out-the-vote effort. And in the Iowa Poll, he’s seen his favorability dip by 11 points since the beginning of January.
So Cruz’s final pitch in Sioux City, aided by endorsements celebrity and otherwise, didn’t seem like the culmination of a campaign that aimed to consolidate the conservative vote. It felt more like a rag-tag effort, patchworked together to stave off an out-of-control revolution that threatens the Republican party, or at least Cruz’s role as its leading conservative firebrand…
And there’s little doubt Cruz worked harder than just about anyone. He fits six campaign events in a day when most candidates might allow three. He’s built a strong organization that unites evangelicals, homeschoolers, and libertarians. In Iowa, the Cruz campaign can point to more than 12,000 volunteers, more than 1,500 precinct captains, more than 20,000 phone calls and 2,000 doors knocked on every day. By the time Iowans caucus on February 1, Cruz will be able to say he’s campaigned in all 99 counties, with county chairs of his campaign in each one.
If all that can’t seal the deal, what can? Cruz ended his rally with the same request he’s repeated throughout Iowa over the past few days. “If everyone here brings nine people, we will win the caucuses and we will win the nomination and we will the general election and beat Hillary Clinton and turn this country around!” he said, his voice, with each phrase, rising in volume and intensity.