SOUTH HANOVER TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- After a landslide primary election defeat in New York on Tuesday, which saw Ted Cruz place third in the Republican vote, the Texas Senator and Presidential hopeful issued a challenge to GOP frontrunner Donald Trump after a Wednesday morning rally outside Hershey.
"If he understood the problems facing this country, he should welcome a debate here in Pennsylvania before next Tuesday," Cruz said.
It may be a Hail Mary play to gain more support in the state. Cruz trails Trump by around 20 points in most Pennsylvania polls leading up to next Tuesday's primary election. Although, as he told a standing room only crowd at the Antique Automobile Club of America Museum, he believes he is the Republican party's only shot at defeating Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton in November.
"Republicans are uniting behind our campaign because Donald Trump cannot win," Cruz said following the rally. "A vote for Donald Trump is a vote for Hillary Clinton. He loses (to her) by double digits."
His statements after echoed his message during the rally to nearly one thousand supporters, Cruz's second trip to Central Pennsylvania in three weeks. He spoke at the Pennsylvania Leadership Conference in Lemoyne, Cumberland County on April 1.
Both Trump and Clinton were commonly targets of Cruz during his nearly hour-long speech. He downplayed his loss Tuesday in Trump's home state of New York, which he finished a distant third behind Trump and Ohio Governor John Kasich.
"Let me tell you what Donald and the media want to convince you: that Pennsylvania is a suburb of Manhattan," he said, picking up jeers from the crowd holding Cruz signs. "Manhattan has spoken and Pennsylvania will quietly file into obedience.
"I've got a lot more faith in the people of Pennsylvania," he continued to raucous cheers.
Moments after he was introduced by Carly Fiorina, Cruz said Hillary Clinton was "terrified" of the former Republican candidate and could picture her "tossing and turning and tossing and turning...in her jail cell."
Cruz's message, which involves a strict following of the U.S. Constitution, as well as policy plans to "abolish the IRS," focus on small business, and deliver religious freedom to states, attracted people of all types.
"Ted Cruz is the only the candidate currently who reveres the founding documents and reveres the constitution," said John Rentschler of Bernville, Berks County, a self-proclaimed historian and seventh generation Constitutionalist who came to the rally dressed in Revolutionary War Era garb.
Ali Hamza, a student at Penn State-Harrisburg, came to the rally to show support for Cruz.
"Dump Trump!" Hamza said. "I am a Muslim. I hate Trump. The reason I love Cruz is because he believes in family rituals and core beliefs which I cherish."
As Cruz leaves Central Pennsylvania, his main rival is coming to town. Donald Trump's campaign announced the GOP frontrunner will hold a rally Thursday at the Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg beginning at 7 p.m.