Right-wing radio can be a force in the Iowa caucuses
Ted Cruz has the support of key voices in conservative talk radio
Glenn Beck took the stage at a Ted Cruz rally on Sunday and invoked God, George Washington and the U.S. Constitution.
And he had something to say about Donald Trump.
“Historians will write about you,” Beck, one of the most powerful voices in conservative radio, told the audience on Sunday night in Davenport where he appeared with Cruz.
“It was at this hour that Americans saw that their country was being lost,” Beck continued. “And they grounded themselves not in game shows or reality shows, they grounded themselves in the principles they knew were true.”
The dig at “game shows” and “reality shows” is a clear knock against Trump, who is leading Cruz in a close contest in Iowa as voters head to the caucuses on Monday. The final Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics Iowa poll released Saturday night showed Trump at 28 percent and Cruz at 23 percent, although it also found Cruz is more respected than Trump.
In a campaign dominated by the Trump media circus, Cruz is relying heavily on the support of powerful right-wing radio pundits like Beck and others to tip the scales in the Hawkeye State.
Backstage, Beck told CNN, “The last thing that people need is a demagogue.”
At Cruz’s events, speakers praised the endorsements of both Beck and Steve Deace, the local conservative talk-radio star who was widely credited with helping Mike Huckabee win the Iowa caucuses in 2008.
Before Cruz came on stage here in Davenport, a video montage featured conservative radio heavyweights trumpeting the Texas Senator’s bona fides:
“Ted Cruz is the most conservative candidate running, the most consistently conservative candidate running,” Mark Levin said.
“I think Ted Cruz is a rock star. Cruz is like the conscience of a conservative in a Senate that is gutless, timid and cowardly,” added Sean Hannity.
And Rush Limbaugh weighed in: “If you’re looking for a Republican candidate who is the most opposed to liberalism, it’s Ted Cruz.”
While Trump may be dominating the national media and polls, Cruz’s backers believe that these conservative voices will ultimately hold greater sway with the committed Iowa Republicans who have historically shown up in strong numbers at the caucuses.
“The polls of Iowa have been wrong so many times,” Deace told CNN. “I’m pretty confident you’re going to see Ted Cruz get 35,000 to 40,000 votes on caucus night, which is amongst the highest vote total that anybody has ever gotten.”
The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to request for comment on this story.
Cruz’s reliance on Beck, Deace, Levin, Hannity and Limbaugh speaks to just how important conservative talk radio can be in a caucus state like Iowa.
Not all prominent conservative radio hosts have endorsed Cruz.
Hannity, who in addition to hosting his Fox News program is one of the most-listened to talk-radio hosts in the country, has not endorsed anyone in the GOP primary and has spoken positively about both Cruz and Trump.
“The reason both Ted Cruz and Donald Trump are doing well is because the base of the Republican Party rightly feels betrayed by DC Republicans,” he told CNN on Sunday. “Ted Cruz was willing to use that power to defund Obamacare and he is hated by the DC establishment for fighting the fight that the base wanted. Trump is the outsider iconoclast that gives hope of a top-to-bottom shake up of how DC works.”
Limbaugh recently came out in support of Trump’s decision to boycott the most recent Fox News debate, a move by the billionaire developer that was widely criticized by Cruz and his surrogates.
But the Cruz campaign understands just how much sway these pundits hold with conservative voters – and they are using that to try and make up for Cruz’s deficit in the Iowa polls.
No single voice has been a greater boon to that effort than Beck’s.
His 30-minute speeches – which begin with George Washington and end with the threat of ISIS – are geared toward convincing audiences that Monday’s caucuses mark a historical moment in American history, no less significant, he says, than the day Washington signed the Constitution.
The remarks, even more than Cruz’s own, garner the loudest and most energetic applause.
“He is a strict Constitutionalist,” Beck told CNN. “He has really been raised on this, and it seems to me that he was raised for this time. People think he might be Ronald Reagan, I think (Cruz) is going to be Calvin Coolidge.”
Deace says Cruz made a dedicated effort to court Iowa’s conservative leaders and religious institutions.
“What I like about his candidacy the most is, he didn’t use his achievements as the basis for why we owe him something,” Deace said. “He went out there and outworked the rest of these candidates.”