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Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks during an election night watch party Tuesday, March 15, 2016, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
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Ted Cruz announces Phoenix campaign stops ahead of Arizona primary

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks during an election night watch party Tuesday, March 15, 2016, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

PHOENIX — Sen. Ted Cruz will hold two campaign rallies in the Phoenix area this week, his staff said.

Cruz will speak at 6:15 p.m. Friday at Arizona Christian University near State Route 51 and Cactus Road.

Before that, former GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry will appear on Cruz’s behalf Thursday at the West Valley GOP headquarters in Sun City at Bell Road near 99th Avenue. The gathering was scheduled for 1 p.m.

Perry will also stump for Cruz later in the day in Tempe. He will speak at Arizona State University’s Pima Auditorium — inside the Memorial Union — at 4 p.m. And then he will meet with supporters in Mesa at 6:30 p.m. at a city building near Eighth Street and Mesa Drive.

All the events are free, but tickets are required. They can be obtained online.

The rallies will be the first in the Phoenix area since September, when he spoke as part of the National Federation of Republican Women’s biannual convention.

Cruz faces an uphill battle in Arizona. A recent poll had Cruz trailing frontrunner Donald Trump by 14 points, but that was before Sen. Marco Rubio left the race.

Cruz has failed to resonate with Latino voters in Arizona because some of his policies differ from the beliefs of most Latinos in Arizona and throughout the Southwest, experts said.

For voters in Arizona, endorsing a candidate needs to go beyond having the shared identity of “Latino” or “Hispanic,” said Cristian Avila, a state coordinator for Mi Familia Vota, or “My Family Votes.” This matters for both the Republican and the Democratic parties.

“It doesn’t really matter whether (the candidates) are Latino,” Avila said. “(Voters) are interested more in what they’re saying rather than their last names.”

Arizona will host its presidential preferential election on March 22.

Cronkite News’ Miguel Otarola contributed to this report.

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