The lengthy Senate speech "only confirmed to me as an Iowa activist that this man has what it takes to run for president," said Jamie Johnson, a member of the state GOP central committee who was state chairman of former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum's winning 2012 caucus campaign.
In the end, Cruz relented over the shutdown and declined to block passage of a compromise in the Democratic-led Senate that would allow the closed federal services to reopen and to raise the federal debt limit to cover existing liabilities.
Susan Geddes, a leading social conservative strategist in Iowa, said she didn't know enough about Cruz, although his actions had produced little progress.
"It not helpful," said Geddes. "It just seems to me that it has to be productive, or it's not productive."
What mattered more to the thousands who met him during stops this week in San Antonio, Houston and Arlington, Texas, is that he stood up for his beliefs, no matter the outcome.
The crowd in suburban Dallas roared for a 14-minute ovation, standing and reaching out to hug and clutch at Cruz's clothing as he made his way down the aisle.
Cyndi McArtor was among the 1,000 in the hall on the last stop on Cruz's Texas tour.
McArtor wasn't the only one hoping Cruz runs for president, toting a sign that proclaimed "Run, Ted, run."
"Maybe Ted Cruz can stop it," McArtor said of what she described as the nation's steep decline, "but only if he gets elected president."
Organizers also promoted Ted's Army, a pro-Cruz group that promised to rush to the senator's defense if he was accosted by protesters.
Randy King said simply of his commitment to Cruz and to stopping Obama's health care law, "I will fight."
The 57-year-old cancer survivor added: "It may be the death of me, but I will fight."
Weissert reported from Arlington, Texas. Associated Press writer Catherine Lucey contributed from Des Moines.
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