DES MOINES, IA (KTRK) -- Texas Senator Ted Cruz met a large, friendly crowd at the Iowa State Fair on Friday morning.
"God bless the great state of Iowa," he told them as he stood atop the Des Moines Register Soapbox, a stump for political candidates to make their cases for office. They applauded many of his familiar talking points; immigration reform, healthcare, national defense, the 2nd amendment and abolishing the Internal Revenue Service. They laughed when he joked.
"The democrats had planned to have an earlier debate," he said with a grin. "The problem was the debate invitation was emailed to Hillary. "
The first term Texas Senator has been to Iowa several times. His father, Raphael, is an active campaign surrogate. Together they're trying to appeal to a conservative Christian base.
"I'm here to bring you a word of hope and encouragement and optimism," he said, fists pumping into the air, "all across Iowa, all across this country, Americans are waking up and help is on the way. "
Eyewitness News also asked the Senator about immigration reform and the use of the term 'anchor babies'. He didn't directly answer whether or not he found it offensive.
"I think it is a phenomenon we see of current US law for birthright citizenship where people come here illegally and their children, by virtue of being born on US soil become US citizens ," he answered.
Cruz has polished his stump speech, never using a teleprompter. And it was evident as he stood amongst the hundreds who came to see him.
"With me, when I tell you I'm gonna do something, I'm going to exactly what I said I would do," he said to thunderous applause.
He is polling in 4th right now in Iowa. His campaign tells Eyewitness News a top three finish here would be outstanding. Cruz says all the candidates are capable. But he likes his chances.
The crowds for Cruz, while substantial, were as not big as the ones that greeted GOP frontrunner Donald Trump during his visit a week ago.
"I like Donald Trump," said Senator Cruz. "I think the reason right now he's capturing a lot of attention is people are ticked off. They're ticked off at Washington and they want someone who will stand up and tell the truth and take on Washington. I'm very glad Donald Trump is in the race. "
Cruz says his own support nationally has doubled because of the attention Trump brought to the first GOP debate in Cleveland earlier this month. Twenty four million people watched the two hour spectacle.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz pumps up crowd in Iowa