- Associated Press - Saturday, March 19, 2016

DRAPER, Utah (AP) - Ted Cruz teamed up with close friend and political ally Sen. Mike Lee on Saturday as the Texas senator campaigned in Utah and Lee kicked off his first-re-election bid in the state.

The two senators appeared at a rally for Lee inside a school gymnasium in the Salt Lake City suburb of Draper Saturday morning. It was the first of two joint events they planned in Utah ahead of the state’s Tuesday caucuses.

Cruz said Lee was like an “immediate brother,” when they met in 2010, shortly after the Utah senator was carried into office on a wave of tea party support. He told the crowd that Lee stood by his side in 2013 as their push to derail President Barack Obama’s health care law led to the 2013 government shutdown.

The senators were joined Saturday by conservative talk show host Glenn Beck, who touted his Mormon faith, and Cruz’s former-rival-turned-supporter Carly Fiorina, who called Cruz and Lee “fearless fighters.”

“I’m proud of the enemies that Mike Lee and Ted Cruz have made,” Fiorina said

The crowd of about 1,000 cheered loudly and chanted for both Lee and Cruz, waving signs for both candidates and booing when Donald Trump’s name was mentioned.

Beck drew strong applause from the crowd as he spoke of his Mormon faith and joked that the crowd was out to hear from “Mike Cruz.”

Beck said he’s watched Lee for years and while Cruz is the one on center stage, Lee is in the background as “the man behind the curtain.”

He said both senators have been hammered by critics.

“These guys, they’ve tried to destroy them for four years,” Beck said. “Yet they stand.”

Following the rally, Cruz told reporters that he thought it was deplorable that GOP-front runner questioned whether Mitt Romney is really a Mormon. Trump made the comments on Friday at a campaign rally in Salt Lake City, responding to critical comments from Romney.

Romney announced on his official Facebook page on Friday that he plans to vote for Cruz in Utah’s Tuesday caucuses, saying it presented the best chance of keeping Trump from becoming the GOP nominee.

Cruz said Saturday that he agrees with Romney and he’s the only candidate who can defeat Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton in November.

The same slate of speakers at the Draper event appeared at a similar rally for Cruz in Provo on Saturday afternoon attended by several thousand people.

Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox also spoke, slamming Trump for his comments about Romney’s faith.

“That’s not how we roll in Utah,” Cox said.

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