Sen. Ted Cruz visited a Chinese-Latino restaurant in the Bronx Wednesday, primarily meeting with a group of black and Latino pastors.
The Republican presidential candidate met with the pastors over lunch in a back room of Sabrosura 2. In the main room of the restaurant, a couple dozen of his supporters sat at tables waiting for him to come out.
A few protesters also came to the eatery at 1808 Westchester Ave. One was quick to interrupt the visit, yelling at Cruz as he walked to the back of the restaurant to meet with the pastors.
“Ted Cruz has no business being in the Bronx,” the demonstrator yelled as he was escorted out by police. “This is an immigrant community.” The protester said Cruz had an anti-immigrant stance and his visit “is an insult to the whole community.”
Lisa Stewart, a Cruz supporter from Manhattan, argued that Cruz isn’t anti-immigration.
“He is for immigration,” she said. “He is not for illegal immigration.”
Stewart, 30, said she used to be a Democrat but her positions have changed during President Barack Obama’s administration. She likes Cruz because she said he has a strong constitutional conservative record
“He’s not just saying things that people like to hear, unlike Donald Trump,” Stewart said.
Other supporters cited their candidate's commitment to family values, his pro-Israel stance and his position on ending Common Core as reasons for backing him.
Meanwhile, outside the restaurant, Destiny Domeneck, a student from the Bronx Lighthouse College Prep Academy, sat holding a sign that said, “Here’s your wall,” quietly protesting Cruz’s immigration policy.
After the lunch, Cruz spoke briefly with reporters. He said Monday’s GOP primary in Wisconsin was “a turning point, I believe, in this entire election, and it culminated four states in a row in the last two weeks where we have beaten Donald Trump over and over and over again.”
Cruz beat Trump in the primary, 48 percent to 35 percent. In New York, which holds its primary on April 19, Trump leads the Republican vote by more than 30 percent, per a recent Quinnipiac University poll.
Cruz also addressed his comments from January, when he criticized Donald Trump for embodying “New York values.”
“It’s the values of the liberal Democratic politicians that have been hammering the people of New York for a long time,” Cruz said.
He criticized Mayor Bill de Blasio’s charter-school policy and position on the police.
"Every time there is a confrontation between criminals and police officers, the liberal Democrats side with the criminals and the looters and the rioters rather than the police officers,” he said.
State Sen. Rubén Díaz (D-Bronx), one of the pastors who organized the lunchtime meeting, said Cruz represented his values.
“New York values are good for some people and not good for others. We’re Christian, we’re evangelical,” Diaz said. “We’re conservative.”
Additional reporting by Newsday's Matthew Chayes.