HOUSTON, TEXAS — At a packed house at Houston Baptist University on Monday night, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) held his last rally before Tuesday’s big presidential primary, where Texas and 11 other states will head to the polls. “Tomorrow is Super Tuesday,” Cruz told the crowd. “Tomorrow, Texas speaks its voice.”
Unfortunately for Cruz, however, at least five Texans decided to speak their voices at Cruz’s rally — and they weren’t speaking in support of him. As soon as Cruz took the stage, three women stood up and began to chant: “Cruz, Perry, Abbott: Bad for Texas, bad for country.” They were referring to former Texas Gov. Rick Perry and current Gov. Greg Abbott, who are endorsing Cruz in the race.
After those women were escorted out by security, two more women separately interrupted the rally with the same chant. Both were also escorted out and asked to leave the premises.
There appears to be a protest effort at the Ted Cruz rally in Houston. 3 incidents so far. pic.twitter.com/2AK7tQwBQe
— WFAA-TV (@wfaachannel8) March 1, 2016
As the women were put in a golf cart and driven off university property, they told ThinkProgress they’re with the Texas Organizing Project, an advocacy group for low- and middle-income Texans. The protest, they said, was a general one of policies championed by Cruz that they believe have hurt Texas residents.
“We are freedom fighters — we want justice for all, not just for few,” said Lola Garcia, a Houston resident. “We want everyone to come up and succeed, not just the one percent. We want equal rights. We want a living wage.”
CREDIT: Emily Atkin
Garcia specifically mentioned immigration as a core issue of the protest. Since his campaign for the presidency, Cruz has shifted sharply rightward on immigration, pledging to round up and deport the 12 million undocumented immigrants living in America. And Texas, she noted, has 1.68 million undocumented immigrants, the second-highest number of all the states in the country.
“Immigration is a part of this,” she said. “We defend immigrant rights, and we believe families should be kept together.”
Amanda Garcia, another protestor, said Cruz’s rhetoric on abortion inspired her to interrupt his event. Cruz has fiercely made the case that he’s the most pro-life candidate, pledging to ban abortion and pull funding for Planned Parenthood if elected president. “He ignores women’s right to choose,” she said. “That’s a big issue.”
Protests have become somewhat commonplace at Republican presidential candidate events, particularly at Donald Trump rallies, where protesters have been insulted and roughed up. Cruz’s response to the protest — and the response of his supporters — differed sharply from those at Trump events. There were no physical altercations, and Cruz did not comment on the women’s appearance. He did, however, accuse the women of being Bernie Sanders supporters.
Though they wouldn’t say who they’re supporting in the race, the women acknowledged that they’re Democrats — and that Cruz’s rhetoric just doesn’t line up with their own. Mostly, they just seemed excited to be able to interrupt Cruz and get away with it.
“The protest was about disturbing his peace,” Lola Garcia said. “If he comes to Houston, he has to expect that Democrats are going to protest him. And that’s what we’re doing. We’re Democrats, we believe in our core values and what we think the issues are, and he seems to disregard everything we are passionate about.”