FORT MILL — With just a week left to persuade evangelical South Carolina voters that he is the only Republican alternative to Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and conservative pundit Glenn Beck thrilled more than 2,000 of the faithful late Thursday at MorningStar Fellowship, a Fort Mill megachurch.
Cruz vowed to be the dam that would stop a liberal wave, saying he will fight for the sanctity of marriage, return the military to strength, and secure the borders against a tide of illegal immigration.
“I will stop amnesty and secure the borders,” Cruz told The Herald before the event. “I will stand and fight for the Constitution and the sanctity of marriage and religious liberty.”
Despite the event’s being organized in just 48 hours, Cruz’ supporters lined up hours before the event and filled the sanctuary to hear the Texas senator promise to stop liberals dead in their tracks. The crowd jammed the balconies of the one-time hotel on what used to be the PTL ministry property.
Daniel and Kelly Bishop of Fort Mill, in their mid 20s and proudly conservative and Christian, said Cruz is the only candidate who will “fight for them.”
Cruz is “not just talk, but action” when it comes to being pro-life, Daniel Bishop said.
“Senator Cruz supports traditional Christian values and can take our country forward,” he said. Trump, who is leading in most South Carolina polls ahead of the Feb. 20 GOP primary, “is a divider, when this country needs a uniter like Ted Cruz.”
Cruz’ outreach to evangelicals appears to be crucial to his success in South Carolina, where more than two-thirds of all Republican voters are deeply religious Christians and conservatives.
And many of those conservatives live in northern York County and northern Lancaster County just across the creek from the church. Both areas have boomed in population in the past decade, largely retired, older conservatives who are active primary voters.
Greg and Jo Johnson, who live near the church, said Cruz is the only candidate who is closely aligned with their views against same-sex marriage and abortion.
“Ted Cruz stands up for those values,” Greg Johnson said.
Linda McCurley of York said that Cruz is the only “true conservative” in the race, especially when it comes to gun rights and limited government.
“He believes in less invasion into your life, Second Amendment rights — all the things the founders said in the Constitution.”
Joe Rhode of Indian Land, just a few miles away in Lancaster County, said Cruz would bring back conservative “constitutionalist” judges and rein in runaway courts.
“He’s the real conservative in this race,” Rhode said.
Many in the crowd spoke of how the country has veered away from the Christian values that made it great.
It was the second stop at MorningSide for Cruz in less than a month. On Jan. 16, he spoke to about 2,000 people about foreign policy, vowing to hunt down and destroy radical Islamists.
Cruz, who came in first in last week’s Iowa caucuses, but finished a distant third Tuesday in the New Hampshire primary, is running second to Trump in South Carolina polls — with Trump polling an average of 36 percent and Cruz pulling about 20 percent.
The MorningStar rally came after Cruz spoke at the conservative Carolina Values Summit 15 miles south at Winthrop University in Rock Hill.
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