BARRINGTON, N.H.—Texas Sen. Ted Cruz used his final day before the Granite State primary to court voters who supported Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul's failed presidential bid.
Cruz claimed to have begun rebuilding the Reagan coalition that helped Republicans reclaim the White House in 1980, and touted a new endorsement from a local Paul devotee.
"Yesterday we received the support of five New Hampshire representatives who had been part of Rand Paul's team, as we see the Liberty Movement coalescing, and just this morning we're pleased to announce Kevin Avard, Rand Paul's New Hampshire state chairman, has endorsed this campaign," Cruz said. "And I'm going to tell you when the Reagan coalition comes together, when the Liberty Movement is standing with Tea Partiers, standing with small business owners, is standing with Republican women, is standing with evangelicals, is standing with conservatives — that becomes a potent move from the people that scares the living daylights out of Washington, D.C."
Supporters of Sen. Paul and his father Ron Paul, the former Texas congressman who lost the 2012 GOP presidential race, may be initially reluctant to join the "Cruz crew" because of the numerous attacks the libertarian senator tossed Cruz's way before dropping out of the 2016 race.
Sen. Paul distributed fundraising solicitations noting that Cruz employs a "finger-in-the-wind conservatism" and charged that the Texas senator "has just not been an authentic, genuine voice when it comes to defending liberty."
But several fans of Rand and Ron Paul in New Hampshire have begun working on behalf of Ted Cruz. Sylvia Smith, a New Hampshire resident who helped form the 603 Alliance of conservative activists, has pledged her allegiance to Cruz.
"I loved Senator Paul's father," Smith said. "I myself have said that if Marco Rubio is the candidate, I'll vote for the Libertarian candidate. ... In my mind, he's as bad as Obama, for God sakes. He's very ambitious, "Yond Cassius has that lean and hungry look."
And Smith said since she began knocking on doors to promote Cruz, she believes many "Free Staters" may also turnout for Cruz on Tuesday. The Free State Project is a plan for a mass migration of libertarians to New Hampshire to gain political influence over the smaller population state.
Cruz's success in the Granite State may hinge on his ability to resonate with libertarians, as he competes with Donald Trump's populist protectionism and a host of more moderate Republican governors who have bet their political future on New Hampshire's results. The first-in-the-nation primary will take place on Tuesday.