By Susan Davis
Move over, Marco Rubio. There's a new guy winning the hearts of Tea Party activists.
Attorney Ted Cruz addressed thousands of activists in Dallas five days ahead of the July 31 Texas Senate Republican primary in which he is favored by election analysts to upset GOP establishment favorite Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst.
Cruz's surge has been fueled by conservative activists aligned with the Tea Party movement and endorsements from party-bucking GOP senators like Rand Paul of Kentucky, Jim DeMint of South Carolina and Mike Lee of Utah.
Activists say they like his personal story and his charismatic speaking style, which he displayed here when he put a spin on President Obama's 2008 campaign slogan, and had conservative activists chanting "Yes we can."
"Can we restore the U.S. Constitution? Can we retake the U.S. Senate? Can we retire [Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid? Can we repeal Obamacare? Can we retire Barack Obama?" he said to crowd cheers.
Matt Kibbe, the president of the Tea Party-aligned FreedomWorks, said Cruz's popularity is attributed to both a compelling personal story -- he has a Cuban-American father and Canadian mother, and he was the first Hispanic solicitor general in Texas -- and political savvy.
"A lot of people call him the next Marco Rubio," Kibbe said. The Florida Republican senator was a Tea Party favorite in 2010.
A Cruz victory on Tuesday would "absolutely" be the biggest Tea Party upset of the 2012 cycle, Kibbe said.
Dewhurst is supported by establishment figures like Gov. Rick Perry, but Cruz has the backing of former governor Sarah Palin and conservative commentator Glenn Beck, who is the keynote speaker here and last week dubbed the race "probably the biggest sign of the Tea Party's power and the freedom movement."