SOUNDVIEW — Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz was met with a mix of cheers and heckles as he entered Bronx restaurant Sabrosura 2 Wednesday afternoon to meet with a group of ministers, including New York State Senator Ruben Diaz.
Cruz, fresh off his primary win in Wisconsin Tuesday, entered the eatery on Westchester Avenue, near Beach Avenue, around 1 p.m. surrounded by a scrum of reporters. He met with the clergy for about 40 minutes and discussed issues including abortion and family values, Diaz said.
Ted Cruz is in The Bronx pic.twitter.com/c5cjLiEXUK— Eddie Small (@Eddie_Small) April 6, 2016
Diaz said he was thrilled that Cruz had accepted their invitation to come visit the borough.
"We are honored for him to be here in The Bronx, paying homage to The Bronx and the Hispanic community and to the evangelical community," Diaz said.
However, he stopped short of endorsing the Republican candidate, saying he would not be doing so today.
Cruz's meeting with the ministers was briefly interrupted by a pair of protestors who got into the restaurant and tried to confront the candidate about issues including immigration and climate change.
Protestors being escorted out, angry over Cruz's stances on climate change, immigration pic.twitter.com/2cTPfinuGj— Eddie Small (@Eddie_Small) April 6, 2016
Protestor Rebel Diaz said Cruz should not be in The Bronx because of his anti-immigrant views.
"How can you come to the South Bronx with an anti-immigrant stance?" he asked. "You're talking about building a border wall, you're talking about policing Muslim communities, and you're going to come into a Muslim immigrant community. This is The Bronx!"
Some supporters said they were backing the candidate for his foreign policy beliefs.
Volunteer Cindy Grosz said she was supporting the Texas Republican Senator because of his pro-Israel stance.
Sol Rieger expressed a similar sentiment.
Cruz supporter Sol Rieger said he hopes the candidate sees him so he knows that Jews are behind him--"At least some Jews."— Eddie Small (@Eddie_Small) April 6, 2016
Cruz tried to find common ground with Bronx residents over immigration when he spoke with reporters after his meeting.
Ted Cruz talking a lot about his dad coming to America not speaking English and washing dishes— Eddie Small (@Eddie_Small) April 6, 2016
"When my dad came from Cuba in 1957, he was just 18 years old. He was penniless," he said. "He had $100 in his underwear."
He also had very harsh words for Mayor Bill de Blasio, criticizing him for trying to shut down charter schools and stressing that he was referring to liberal Democratic politicians like him when he made his derisive comment about "New York values" earlier in the campaign.
"It's the values of the liberal democratic politicians that have been hammering the people of New York for a long time," he said. "They have been suffering."
He criticized Democrats on safety as well, saying they side with criminals over police every time there is a confrontation between the two and singling out the moment when NYPD officers decided to turn their backs on de Blasio for praise.
"The moment when the brave men and women in blue of the NYPD stood up and turned their backs on Mayor de Blasio, I cheered for those New York cops," he said.
Despite his win Tuesday, Cruz still trailed Donald Trump by 226 delegates on Wednesday.
The next primary is slated for Trump's home turf of New York on April 19.