| Jocelyn Augustino, American Media Institute; Ted Cruz for President

Ted Cruz has close encounter with Oscar winner ahead of Iowa caucus

Sen. Ted Cruz will need a bigger boat to hold the famous names his Saturday rally in Ames, Iowa brought to the surface.

Oscar-winning actor Richard Dreyfuss met Cruz backstage, and news mogul Glenn Beck gave the Texas Republican a rousing endorsement at a crowded conference center at the Gateway Hotel.

Cruz, who is running a close second to Donald Trump in Iowa polling ahead of Monday’s caucus, was also joined by social conservative leader Bob Vander Plaats and Rep. Steve King (R., Iowa).

King and Beck in the past have been reluctant to make political endorsements. King did not back any candidate in 2012. In 2008, he endorsed former Tennessee senator Fred Thompson weeks before the caucus.

Beck told the audience that the yea vote for Cruz was his first.

“I've never endorsed anybody in my life — I didn’t trust anybody,” Beck told the audience in his introduction. “I haven’t been willing to put my stamp or my name to anyone who goes to Washington ... I haven’t been willing to do it until I met Ted Cruz. 

“Ted has done everything he said he would do,” he said.

Cruz took the stage and captivated the audience by offering a list of Day One items he promises to complete if elected president. An investigation of Planned Parenthood, canceling of the Iran nuclear agreement and repeal of the Affordable Care Act were items at the top of the first-term senator’s agenda. Cruz also promised to reform the Veterans Affairs administration.

Cruz compared the current state of Washington to the final years of the Carter administration in the late 1970s.

“Same failed economic policies. Same feckless and naive foreign policies; in fact, the exact same countries — Russia and Iran — openly laughing at and mocking the president of the United States,” Cruz said.

“Now why is it that that analogy gives me so much hope and confidence?” Cruz asked. “Because we remember how that story ended: Millions of men and women across this country rose up and became the Reagan revolution. 

“Why am I so optimistic? Because the same thing is happening now,” he added.

Cruz is currently trailing businessman Donald Trump by less than 5 percentage points in Real Clear Politics’ average of Iowa polls. A recent Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics poll, the final poll expected out of Iowa before the caucus on Monday, showed Trump at 28 percent to Cruz’s 23 percent. In the final days before the caucus, Cruz and Trump have attacked each other on the campaign trail, ending a long period of non-confrontation between the two candidates.