Sen. Ted Cruz speaks about bolstering military while aboard Yorktown

GOP presidential candidate Texas Sen. Ted Cruz on Tuesday spoke on the aircraft carrier Yorktown at Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum.

MOUNT PLEASANT — Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz on Tuesday bashed the Obama administration’s military policy and vowed to strengthen the armed forces.

Hundreds of supporters, including many veterans, showed up aboard the aircraft carrier Yorktown at Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum in Mount Pleasant to listen to Cruz, who won the Iowa caucuses earlier this month, buoyed by the votes of many evangelical Christians. Recent polls in South Carolina show Cruz a distant second to Donald Trump ahead of Saturday’s Republican primary.

“We can rebuild our military so it will be feared by enemies and trusted by our allies,” Cruz said.

The point is to grow the military back to its former luster — the way it was under President Ronald Reagan.

It is not “to expand the bloated bureaucracy that is stifling innovation at the Pentagon,” Cruz said.

But it will be expensive. “If you think it’s too expensive to defend this nation,” Cruz said, “try not defending it.”

Melissa Schoeffel, a lifelong Charlestonian, was among those who came out to listen to Cruz.

She said she appreciates Cruz’s support of law enforcement and his strong support of the First Amendment right to free speech and the Second Amendment right to bear arms. “Anybody who will stand up for the Constitution is the man for the job,” she said.

The Texas senator, during his roughly 40-minute talk, focused on the military, and he didn’t address Trump’s Monday threat to sue him if he didn’t apologize for his claims that Trump is pro-choice and favors Obamacare.

After the event, however, Cruz said, “I think Donald is very rattled right now. ... As voters coalesce behind our campaign, Donald throws insults.”

On Monday, Trump called Cruz “a disgusting liar,” “a very unstable guy” and “a basket case.” Trump also has questioned Cruz’s citizenship.

Cruz was born in Canada to a mother who is a U.S. citizen.

Reach Diane Knich at 843-937-5491 or on Twitter @dianeknich.