Katie Zezima, THE WASHINGTON POST
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (The Washington Post)—Sen. Ted Cruz, pacing as he always does when making a stump speech, looked out on a room packed with people and made note of the furniture.
“The reason I’m optimistic is because we ran out of chairs,” Cruz (R-Tex.) said to the crowd at the Longbranch Hotel, some in straight-backed chairs, others massed in the back.
It’s a line Cruz would use more than once on his first trip to Iowa as a declared presidential candidate, underscoring his status as an emerging top-tier contender in the crowded 2016 race.
On a two-day, five-stop swing that took him from Sioux City to Dubuque County, Cruz was greeted by enthusiastic crowds packed into stuffy auditoriums and large ballrooms. Sporting a wireless microphone, he has honed his primary pitch to voters — it involves a lot of gesticulating — and looks more comfortable on the trail than before. He chuckles after his own jokes and a self-satisfied smile came each time the crowd applauded or shouted “Amen” after he called for the repeal of Obamacare or the Common Core education standards.