Three days after former House Speaker John Boehner called fellow Republican and presidential hopeful Ted Cruz "Lucifer in the flesh" during a talk at Stanford University, the Texas senator gave a speech at the annual California Republican Convention in the Bay Area.
If the promise of jobs drew dozens of Republicans from the Bay Area and beyond to hear presidential frontrunner Donald Trump speak on Friday, it was Cruz's conservative background and charisma that attracted party loyals to Saturday's $100-a-ticket lunch.
"God bless the great state of California," Cruz said to wild applause from the crowd. A couple of minutes into his speech, Cruz promised to repeal Obamacare, pass the flat tax and create trillions in revenue for the federal government.
As for "anyone who dares to muder American citizens, a day of reckoning is coming," Cruz said, again to applause from the crowd.
'I'm Going to Cut Your Taxes': No Fireworks at Cruz Calif. GOP Convention Speech, But Supporters Still Impressed
Although the crowd responded to his excellent oratorial skills on stage, Cruz, a former debate champ, failed to evoke the kind of rockstar treatment reserved for Trump. In fact, members of the press commented about how the lack of security or protesters outside the hotel made his appearance seem just like any normal convention event.
Former California Gov. Pete Wilson introduced Cruz at the convention to a standing ovation, saying the candidate had his "wholehearted support." "Never has the California Republican primary election been so critical to the future of our nation," Wilson said, saying Cruz was committed to a strong national defence and picking the right Supreme Court justices who would interpret the law.
"Heaven knows what justices Donald Trump would pick." he said, and continued: "We can't afford a wild card when it comes to a president who will be making critically important Supreme Court appointments."
California's June 7 primary, usually low profile in nature, could be crucial in deciding the presidential election.
With newly-named running mate Carly Fiorina speaking at a convention dinner event the same night, Cruz, who continues to trail Trump in campaigns, hopes that the Fiorina announcement will get voters excited about a Cruz-Carly ticket.
"Hillary is scared as hell of Carly," he said to laughter from the crowd. "...The reason I named her this week is because the people deserve a clear choice."
On Saturday, many Cruz supporters backed his choice.
Dan Fry, a small-business owner from near Sacramento, said he could picture her as his commander-in-chief if "something were to happen to President Cruz."
Fry said that he was primarily voting for Cruz because of his 10 percent flat tax stance, his plan to repeal Obamacare, which was forcing his business to lose money, and his strong conservative ethics.
"Being a business owner in California, it's difficult to do business as is, and getting someone like Cruz in will lead to significant tax reductions," he said.
As if on cue, Cruz, at lunch, promised as much. "I think Californians get taxed too much already. I'm going to cut your taxes," he said to loud cheers.
Fry said that Trump will be his next choice if Cruz doesn't win the nomination.
Others said Cruz's Hispanic roots was what drew them to him.
"My granddaughter is Hispanic, and I hope that Ted Cruz is the first Hispanic presidential candidate," said Silvia Bichler of Gilroy.
Trump's luncheon event was attended by about 1,000 people, 600 of whom also paid $100 a ticket to be in the same room as him, but not before protesters blocked his entrance to the Burlingame Hyatt Regency on Old Bayshore Highway.
The business mogul's security detail was forced to stop his car in the middle of Highway 101 and make him hop over a median barrier to enter the hotel through a back entrance — a maneuver Trump likened to "crossing the border."
Television crews streamed the bizarre arrival live, and during his speech, protesters took over the hotel parking lot after cutting through police lines and chanting anti-Trump slogans. Even as protesters chanted: "Dump Trump," and "This is California, Run Trump, Run," his supporters showered the billionaire with praise, saying what America needed was a CEO who would bring back jobs.
In his speech, Cruz provided more specifics about what he planned to do if he won the election, as opposed to Trump, who spent a majority of his time taking jabs at fellow candidates and President Obama.
Security was extremely tight at Trump's Friday event, especially because protests had been anticipated, and Secret Service agents as well as riot police kept a close eye on protesters.
All three presidential candidates are expected to be campaigning up and down the state over the next six to eight weeks. Gov. John Kasich spoke at a dinner event Friday night and at a town hall at the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose Saturday morning, where he addressed his sentiments toward immigration.
"I'm not an immigration expert," he said. "But my concern about the H-1B program is that it has been distorted." He went on to assert that the visa allows companies to take advantage of foreign-born workers, among other issues.
On Saturday afternoon, Cruz's campaign was busy registering volunteers at their booth, right next to an anti-Hillary Clinton booth where visitors were throwing "Delete Benghazi" sacks into a corn hole shaped like Clinton's mouth.
GOP leaders and party supporters said they were excited about the opportunity to be able to interact with Trump, Cruz and Kasich at the same event.
"The way you win elections is by talking to voters and making a case, and all three candidates are going to show up and make a case," Republican Party Chair Jim Brulte said.
He continued: "The job of the California Republican Party is to be neutral in the presidential election and let the candidates run their campaigns as they seem fit in our state."
Cruz supporters on Saturday said they were unperturbed by Boehner's remarks, which were first reported by a Stanford student newspaper.
Boehner didn’t stop at comparing Cruz to the Devil, though. He added: "I have Democrat friends and Republican. I get along with almost everyone, but I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life."
Cruz lashed back at Boehner before a crowd in Fort Wayne, Indiana Thursday, saying Boehner had allowed his "inner Trump to come out." As for the "Lucifer" comment, Cruz said: "If John Boehner is calling me 'Lucifer,' he’s not directing that at me. He’s directing that at you."