BARRINGTON, N.H. —
You learn to expect the unexpected on the presidential campaign trail. Cuban-American Republicans running well in Iowa. A guy with really odd hair leading the GOP pack. Roadside signs like this on a 22-degree New Hampshire morning: “Cedar Waters Nudist Park.”
These people might be even hardier than I thought.
Here’s something else you might find unexpected.
Ted Cruz, comedian.
Yes, I know some of you are laughing at him and not with him, but Cruz’s campaign events — town hall meetings sometimes in actual town halls or meet-and-greets in places like Pedraza’s Mexican Restaurant in Keene (decent enchiladas, but New Hampshire-Mex isn’t Tex-Mex) — show off the Texas U.S. senator’s ability to deliver a one-liner.
There’s no doubt this guy has a nasty side (in shutting down a heckler who invoked God at a Monday event in Raymond, Cruz said he thought “lefties” don’t believe in God), but in a state like New Hampshire, where Tuesday’s primary ends months of campaigning, humor helps make the personal connection that voters here demand. Humor also helps a candidate facing a likability gap.
“Reaganomics: You start a business in your parents’ garage,” Cruz tells crowds. “Obamanomics: You move into your parents’ garage.”
Cruz always wraps up by urging folks to get other folks out to vote for him.
“Commit right now to pick up the phone and call your mom,” he says. “It’s actually a good idea to call your mom anyway.”
It draws smiles and laughs every time, as does this line about a Democratic debate: “They’re hosting it at Leavenworth. They wanted to make it easier for Hillary to attend.”
In another pointed jab at Clinton, Cruz says, “The Democrats have a wild-eyed socialist with ideas that are dangerous for America and the world … and Bernie Sanders.”
“Y’all define gun control the same way we do in Texas,” he says, “hitting what you aim at.”
“Please leave your cellphones on,” Cruz tells crowds. “I want to make sure President Obama hears every word we say today.”
To an English teacher Monday in Barrington: “A dangling preposition is something up with which I will not put.”
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