- The Washington Times - Friday, January 29, 2016

FENTON, Iowa — Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz brushed aside Friday the bad reviews of his debate performance the night before, when he weathered withering attack from rivals for shifting political stances to pander to voters or donors.

Mr. Cruz blamed the negative reviews on slanted views of the mainstream news media.

“At the end of the day I don’t worry about the approval or the disapproval of the media. It is not surprising that I am not the mainstream media’s favorite candidate. I am working to be the candidate of the American people,” he told reporters before a town hall meeting at North Star restaurant in this farming community.

Mr. Cruz was in the midst of barnstorming to town halls and rallies across Iowa in the past three days before the country’s leadoff nominating contest here Monday.

Several news outlets, including the Des Moines Register, declared Mr. Cruz the loser of the bout.

The attacks from rivals that Mr. Cruz is a shape-shifting politician directly contradicts the image he is presenting on the campaign trail of being a “consistent conservative.”

“We’ve seen too many Republicans that live in the echo chamber of the mainstream media bubble, that live in world of political correctness,” he said. “My focus is on talking to the voters directly and making the case to them that I have spent my entire life fighting to defend the constitution.”

The Texas senator took center stage in the absence of this chief rival, billionaire businessman Donald Trump, who boycotted the Fox News debate when he couldn’t get the network to eject anchor Megyn Kelly as a moderator.

Instead of debating, Mr. Trump held a competing event across town that raised about $6 million for veterans charities. His absence made Mr. Cruz the biggest target on the stage and the other candidates took full advantage of the opportunity.

Mr. Cruz insisted he didn’t miss a chance to knock out Mr. Trump in Iowa, where the two men are in a neck-and-neck race with both attracting a solid following of the state’s evangelical and conservative voters.

“Mr. Trump chose not to attend. that was his choice. I was honored to be there,” he said. “I think every candidate who is running for president owes it to the men and women of Iowa to show them the respect to come in front of them and answer questions about their record and to ask for their vote.”

• S.A. Miller can be reached at smiller@washingtontimes.com.

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