The stage was set for a clash of political titans as three likely presidential candidates and thousands of conservatives gathered here this weekend.
Instead, the Texas GOP convention turned into a blowout bash for Ted Cruz.
The Texas senator was introduced at times as “the next president of the United States.” His speeches were punctuated by chants of “Run, Ted, run!” and supporters mobbed him at his huge exhibition booth. Cruz easily overshadowed fellow potential 2016ers at the event, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, and he dominated them in a presidential straw poll held there.
Many establishment Republicans disdain Cruz’s stick-it-to-Washington attitude, stoking doubts about whether his appeal is broad enough to win a national election. And the convention unfolded here as establishment Republicans have notched wins this year over grassroots insurgents in key races in states such as North Carolina, Kentucky, and, on Saturday, Virginia.
But the dynamics here show the strength, energy and numbers that still make the GOP grassroots powerful. And Cruz’s reception — home-field advantage notwithstanding — offers a preview of the enthusiasm he could generate in other places where grassroots conservatives are active if he runs in 2016.
“What I am trying to do, more than anything else, is motivate and energize millions of grassroots activists in Texas and all around the country to stand up and demand we change course,” Cruz told POLITICO.
The one big demand he faced in Fort Worth was to run for president.
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SOURCE: KATIE GLUECK