ONAWA, Iowa -- If Ted Cruz loses the GOP nomination, it will not be for the lack of effort or investment of time.
“Going 18 hours a day, 6 days a week, starting in the morning and going until late at night, can be draining, can be tiring,” Cruz said on Monday night. “The truth of the matter is, I am energized.”
Cruz capped off his first of six days on a 28-stop tour of the state with an appearance at Penny’s Diner in Missouri Valley -- going strong until 11:30 on Monday night.
After pouring coffee into several patrons’ empty mugs and giving 30 minutes of impassioned remarks from the front of the diner’s kitchen, Cruz shook the hands with each of the roughly 125 potential supporters to pack into the eatery.
It was far from a tranquil fireside chat.
“Why am I so optimistic?” Cruz asked the crowd in his signature, reverberating voice. “Because it’s 10:30 at night in a diner, and it’s standing room only.”
“We got to take power out of Washington and back to we the people,” he exclaimed. “That is what this campaign is all about!”
Larry Taylor, a realtor who drove 30 minutes from Council Bluffs, said he wanted to make it to the event to show respect for Cruz’s extra efforts in the state.
“My wife thought I was a little bit nutso,” Taylor said, acknowledging his wife had already gone to bed for the night. “But knowing all of the stops that Ted had to hit today, I’m glad he made it all this way west. And he’s done a good job of getting grassroots [mobilizing].”
The stop was similar to a late-night pit stop at a Casey’s General Store in Chariton, Iowa, at the end of November. About 75 people in the town of a few thousand stayed up late – despite the frigid weather – to hear the Texas senator.
And before Christmas, Cruz embarked on a 12-stop swing through seven of “Super Tuesday” states, including several southern states that could potentially help Cruz break from the pack toward the nomination.
Cruz has not appeared in New Hampshire since filing for the primary in early November, nearly two months ago – though the campaign says he will make a stop in the state the day of President Obama’s final State of the Union address and then blitz the state via bus beginning January 17 for several days.
And in Iowa, he still plans to hit all of Iowa’s 99 counties by Feb. 1, something that only Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee will have accomplished as well.
Cruz is dominating this town-to-town approach compared to the trio of Donald Trump, Marco Rubio and Ben Carson.
While Trump continues to stop almost weekly, his visits consist typically of one major rally in a semi-metropolitan town.
Rubio and Carson – in the last week -- have just begun to engage in this highway chase.
But Cruz engaged in these several-day Iowa tours nearly every week through October and November, totaling 41 events in a two-month span.