Credit Brian Snyder/Reuters
GREENLAND, N.H. â When Senator Ted Cruz declared his candidacy for president, he said a broad coalition of âcourageous conservativesâ would carry him to the White House. On his first campaign swing through New Hampshire, a two-day trip that ended Saturday, he showed how he hoped to build that coalition.
He spoke of double-barreled shotguns to a crowd packed with Tea Partyers, humble-bragged to young Republicans about an episode of âTrue Bloodâ in which vampires feasted on donors at a fictitious Ted Cruz fund-raiser, and shared charming stories of his little girlsâ antics to a brunch crowd at a country club here.
Mr. Cruz, a Texas Republican who is the only announced candidate so far, seemed comfortable on the stump. Though not exactly altering his message, he brought out certain aspects of his persona and platform depending on the crowd in front of him.
He elicited raucous cheers, fist pumps and even a few âamensâ at a Veterans of Foreign Wars hall in Merrimack when he chided Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. for suggesting that to defend oneâs house, people could fire a shotgun in the air. âVery good advice, if it so happens youâre being attacked by a flock of geese,â Mr. Cruz joked. But before the more sedate brunch crowd, there was no tale of shotguns, just a line about defending the Second Amendment. And to the young Republicans, barely any mention of guns at all.
At least a dozen Republicans and a handful of Democrats have expressed an interest in running for their partyâs 2016 presidential nomination.
At a dinner on Friday in Nashua that was hosted by the Young Americaâs Foundation, a conservative group, Mr. Cruz delivered less a speech than marching orders, spelling out for a crowd of people in their teens and 20s how his campaign would need the plugged-in generation to spread his message online.
Mr. Cruz recalled that in his 2012 Senate race, his animated, campy commercial, called âSpotted!â â featuring mythical creatures like a sasquatch and a chupacabra â had gone viral because of the efforts and enthusiasm of young people. And he credited youthful supporters with mounting a hashtag campaign, #cruztovictory, in 2013 that he said overcame a liberal-driven #youcruzyoulose and became a top trending hashtag on Twitter.
âThe thing that was cool about that is we had nothing to do with it,â Mr. Cruz said. âBut it was because the activists had ownership. They said: âYou know what? Theyâre coming after us.â I think thatâs the key of young people.â
At a $ 35-a-plate brunch with the Rockingham County Republican Committee and Seacoast Republican Women, there was no mention of hashtags, memes or viral ads. But there was the first reference to Mr. Cruzâs new website â tedcruz.org, which lacks a .com address because others had preemptively locked up many other likely addresses â and an appeal for online donations.
Some parts of Mr. Cruzâs stump speech already seem ingrained: calling for the repeal of âevery word of Obamacare,â the elimination of the Internal Revenue Service and the creation of a flat tax to let Americans âfile their tax returns on a postcard.â
He received the biggest standing ovation at each event when declaring his support for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel.
And he continued to find sizable and attentive audiences, with at least 100 people at each stop. A number said they felt an obligation to hear out each candidate. But many more seemed captivated by his fire-breathing, defiant conservatism.
As he finished his remarks at the brunch here on Saturday, Mr. Cruz was presented with a gift from local Republicans, a shirt with a line Mr. Cruz had used in all three speeches: New Hampshireâs motto, âLive Free or Die.â