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Draper • Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz told Utahns on Saturday that the biggest danger America faces is career politicians who no longer listen and he relishes battling them for the people.
"The biggest divide we have today in politics is between career politicians in Washington in both parties and the American people," he said. "Our freedom is at stake. Our nation is dangling in the balance."
Cruz said he has been ridiculed and attacked by such politicians for fighting "Obamacare" and defending the Constitution, but he and his friend Utah Sen. Mike Lee are "holding Washington accountable."
He even hinted that he might consider Lee as a Supreme Court nominee if he is elected president. And Cruz said he is the only remaining candidate who can beat both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
While campaigning for president, he also helped kick off the re-election campaign of Lee at a rally of about 1,500 at a tightly packed American Preparatory Academy in Draper. At Provo High School in the afternoon, he addressed about 5,000 people crowded into its gym.
Cruz basked in the praise of two big-name Mormons: former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney and conservative talk show host Glenn Beck. And former presidential candidate Carly Fiorina appeared at rallies to laud him.
At Lee's campaign launch, Cruz said, "I know this man in a way that can only be hardened in the heat of battle," including fighting together against Obamacare and the increasing debt that led to a partial government shutdown in 2013.
Cruz noted that during his 21-hour filibuster back then, Lee was at his side the whole time and took over some of the talking.
The first time Cruz and Lee met, they walked and talked about the Constitution for hours. Cruz asked the crowd if they remembered Gollum from "The Lord of the Rings," and added, "For Mike , the Constitution is 'my precious.'"
Lee said about Cruz, "It's weird having your best friend at work running for president."
Cruz may have another job in mind for Lee. After vowing to appoint U.S. Supreme Court justices who would protect the Constitution, he said Lee would look good there.
Cruz also called for abolishing the IRS, vowed to "repeal every word of Obamacare," protect religious liberty and gun rights, and end illegal immigration.
Fiorina said the kind of change Cruz seeks ruffles feathers, and "I am proud of the enemies that Mike Lee and Ted Cruz have made."
Beck said he always vows to be the worst enemy of politicians who do not keep promises. "I don't have any friends in Washington except these two," he said about Cruz and Lee. He added they are the first politicians he has ever endorsed.
"Mike and I both need food tasters in the Senate dining room" because of how they attack the status quo there, Cruz said.
Beck said that he, like many Mormons, believes in a prophecy that the Constitution will hang by a thread in the last days. He said he believes that now is that time, and people like Lee and Cruz will save it.
He also said the Book of Mormon was created as a guide on how to protect freedom in our day. At the Provo rally, many responded yelling, "I believe."
Romney who had been campaigning for any GOP presidential candidate except Donald Trump did not appear at Cruz's rallies, but endorsed him in a Facebook post on Friday. Cruz thanked him publicly for that on Saturday.
Romney wrote, "The only path that remains to nominate a Republican rather than Mr. Trump is to have an open convention. At this stage, the only way we can reach an open convention is for Sen. Cruz to be successful in as many of the remaining nominating elections as possible."
He added, "Today, there is a contest between Trumpism and Republicanism. Through the calculated statements of its leader, Trumpism has become associated with racism, misogyny, bigotry, xenophobia, vulgarity and, most recently, threats and violence. I am repulsed by each and every one of these.".
Before he arrived at a Utah rally Friday night, Trump tweeted that "Lyin' Ted Cruz should not be allowed to win there Mormons don't like LIARS! I beat Hillary." He also called Romney "the man who 'choked' and let us all down," so his endorsement of Cruz "is good for me."
At the Cruz rally in Provo on Saturday, Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox attacked Trump for questioning the faith of Mitt Romney at his Friday rally. "Not only is Mitt a great Mormon, he's voting for Ted Cruz."
Cox added, "On Tuesday night, Utah gets to be the designated driver for the Republican Party. ... We are going to elect Sen. Ted Cruz."
Some Cruz supporters at the rallies said they see him as the best remaining candidate in the Republican field.
Gayle Ruzicka, president of the conservative Utah Eagle Forum, said Cruz "is by far the best candidate, and the best conservative. We'll have better than Ronald Reagan when we elect him."
Clara Durling, 16, of West Jordan, said Cruz "has the best chance of being a good president of all the other candidates." She said she has been involved in politics with her family for years, despite being too young to vote, and believes "he will bring back the economy and make good decisions."
"He understands and honors the Constitution," said Craig Foster of Layton. "He says what he's going to do and does it."
Eric Kind of Draper said, "We're at a tipping point in our country. He's the right conservative to bring us back to conservative principles and the Constitution."
Daniel Reich of Sandy said he is leaning toward Cruz, and attended the Draper rally to get a closer look at him and his views. "I think I'm favoring Cruz, but I'm not sure. But he's a better alternative to Donald Trump."
Cruz has won 410 delegates so far, second to the 673 won by Trump. A total of 1,237 is needed to win. Ohio Gov. John Kasich has won 143, while Florida Sen. Marco Rubio who suspended his campaign this week had won 169.
Utah Republicans will choose 40 delegates in caucuses on Tuesday. Under Utah's rules, a candidate who wins more than 50 percent of the vote captures all of the state's GOP delegates. If nobody wins more than half, the delegates are apportioned based on the percentage of the vote the candidate wins.
In recent days, Utah has been visited by four presidential candidates: Cruz, Trump, Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich, and Democratic Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Chelsea Clinton, the daughter of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, also visited.
Sanders is planning another rally on Monday at West High School, with the doors opening at 1 p.m. and the program beginning at 4 p.m.