Sen. Ted Cruz was the opening act of a Christian rock concert packed with 14,000 evangelicals Friday night, as the Republican presidential candidates descended on Greenville, South Carolina ahead of Saturday's CBS GOP debate.
Philip Rucker, a national political correspondent for The Washington Post, reports that Winter Jam is a touring, four-hour show featuring born-again Christian rock and rap artists that performed at Greenville's Bon Secours Wellness Arena on Friday night:
For any Republican politician, this was a captive and prized audience. Evangelical Christians are an especially influential voting block in South Carolina, especially in the Greenville area, known as the Upcountry.
According to Rucker, Cruz spoke for about six minutes, talking about religious liberty being under assault:
"Our nation was founded on Judeo-Christian values," Cruz said. "Those values of life and marriage are under assault, religious liberty is under assault, and yet the American people are rising up."
Cruz did not attack any rivals, nor did he make an overt political pitch. But he cast himself as a champion of social conservative principles, from opposing abortion to advocating for traditional marriage and gun rights. And he implored the audience to unite in the primary.
"The state of SC has a long and glorious tradition of picking presidents," Cruz said...."If we the people stand together as one, defending our liberties, defending our values, defending who we are, we will turn this country around."
Cruz wasn't the only candidate at Winter Jam. Ben Carson also took the stage a couple hours later.