Texas Senator and Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz is on a six-day, 28-county tour of the state, hoping to solidify his lead in the polls a month ahead of the February 1st caucuses.
Hundreds of voters are turning out at venues in small towns.
At a Christian bookstore in Boone, volunteer Benjamin Dorin hands out signup sheets for the Ted Cruz campaign.
"We’re just trying to get phone numbers and e-mail addresses," Dorrin said, before asking some people in the crowd to make room to allow everyone in from the cold.
It was standing room only at each small venue on day one of the tour. Cruz offered up his conservative agenda on guns, national security, and immigration to appreciative crowds.
"There are roughly 360 jurisdictions that call themselves sanctuary cities," Cruz says. "Every one of them will find their federal tax dollars cut off. We are going to start releasing criminal illegal aliens and we are going to end welfare benefits for anyone here illegally."
With that the Cruz campaign is attracting some of the state’s most conservative voters, including tea-party types and evangelicals. And voters who consider themselves constitutionalists say Cruz is their man.
LuAnn Geddes, a homeschool mom from Kelly, says the nation has strayed from the founding fathers intentions.
"For one thing, education," Geddes says. "There was no public provision for education."
"I’m also concerned about parental rights and religious liberties," Geddes adds.
Geddes signed up as a precinct captain for Cruz.
Retired homebuilder Jerry Knauss in Carroll agrees with both the constitutionalists and the evangelicals.
"I believe in the 10th amendment where the federal government is only allowed to do certain things," Knauss says. "They’re just into everything and if they can get this far they can regulate everything we do."
"I believe in freedom of religion, not freedom from religion," Knauss says.
Iowa Fourth District Republican Congressman Steve King accompanied Cruz.
King is a match for Cruz in his zeal to stamp out illegal immigration. And both have angered their colleagues in Congress.
In an interview on the campaign bus, Cruz calls that a point of pride.
"You and I are sitting on our campaign bus," Cruz says. "Next to us is Congressman Steve King. Steve and I are despised by the Washington cartel. I have joked that we need food tasters in the members’ dining room."
Along with King, Cruz offered sarcasm and scorn on Hillary Clinton. And there was some trash talk about government overreach.
"I’m reminded a few years back I was out in West Texas," Cruz joked. "I asked what was the difference between regulators and locusts. I said you can’t use pesticide on regulators. A Texas farmer leaned back and said, 'wanna bet?'"
To focus on evangelicals, at a stop in Winterset Cruz appeared with conservative Christian leaders and said he wants to energize the body of Christ. That works for retired teacher Jo Winslow.
"I believe in Christ and I believe in God and I want a godly president," Winslow says.
Local officials confirm that Cruz is excelling at organization to ensure a good turnout on caucus night. County Republican chair Craig Williams says Cruz has captains in every precinct in Carroll County, more than any other candidate.
"We don’t have that many precincts so it’s not terribly hard to do," Williams says, "But it’s definitely a sign that he has his act together."
"His campaign is probably one of the best organized I’ve ever come across," adds Guthrie County Republican chair Myrna Gibbons.
That organization apparently extends all the way to Missouri Valley in far western Iowa. A crowd there turned out at 10:30 p.m. for the last campaign stop of the day.