The only candidate officially in the 2016 presidential race so far made a stop in Rock Hill late Friday morning, the first out of five stops in South Carolina this weekend.
Republican Texas Senator Ted Cruz spoke to a crowd of roughly 200 people at a Holiday Inn. The town hall event was hosted by the York County GOP. He played up his conservative credentials, saying he would repeal the Affordable Care Act and Common Core initiatives if elected. He also spoke about the public attention that states such as Arkansas and Indiana have received over their recent passage of “religious freedom” laws.
Cruz said he did not agree with decisions in both states this past week to alter the law. “We have seen a vilification and an assault on those states for defending religious liberty. You know, it wasn’t too long ago that religious liberty enjoyed bipartisan support when Republicans and Democrats would come together.”
“Where are the civil libertarians?” he asked rhetorically. “When did the Democratic Party decide that the First Amendment is no longer consistent with their extreme partisan agenda? That is dangerous and it ought to trouble all of us.”
He also reiterated his calls for a nationwide flat tax, which he hoped would lead to the abolishment of the IRS.
The South Carolina Democratic Party criticized Cruz shortly before his speech. In an appearance outside the hotel beforehand, state party director Jason Perkey said Cruz was an extremist whose views do not align with the majority of Americans.
Cruz is beginning a two-day tour of South Carolina. He’s scheduled to campaign at The Beacon Drive-in located in Spartanburg and at a Republican Women’s Reception at the Poinsett Club in Greenville later Friday. On Saturday, he will speak at Palmetto Pigs BBQ in downtown Columbia and at the Newberry Club in Aiken.
Andrew Kiel of Rock Hill station WRHI contributed to this report