PROLE, Iowa (CNN) – After a bitter primary fight between Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, the Texas senator is slowly coming around to the Republican ticket, though with just days before the election, still not enough to use Trump's name when pitching to Iowa voters Thursday.
Cruz did not mention the GOP nominee once on stage during a Mike Pence rally at Bruere Farm, though the senator did, however, speak glowingly of the Indiana governor, calling Trump's running mate a friend and "a good man" who "loves this country." Cruz would later mention Trump's name at a rally in Portage, Michigan.
The former Republican presidential contender, instead, focused his comments on what he considers the three main issues of the election: jobs, freedom and security. He dovetailed with Pence's message at time -- talking about rising health care premiums and Clinton scandals -- but also weaved in parts of his stump speech from his days on the trail.
"We need to pass a simple flat tax and abolish the IRS," Cruz said, recycling a campaign line. The crowd greeted the Iowa caucuses winner enthusiastically, waving "Iowa Agriculture for Trump" signs in the air.
Cruz, like Pence has been going for two weeks now on the trail, urged attendees to support down-ballot candidates like Sen. Chuck Grassley, who is up for reelection, in the Hawkeye State.
As he concluded, Cruz circled back to a favorite line of his on "strong, principled conservatives."
"Together, we're going to keep Republican control of the Senate and we're going to defeat Hillary Clinton in this presidential election," and continued, "He is someone who today I call my friend and I very much look forward to calling him Mr. Vice President," he said as Pence strode on stage.
Later, Pence and Cruz spoke to the traveling press, where Cruz pinned blame on the media for creating divisions in the party.
"Well, I am here campaigning for Donald Trump for Mike Pence. I recognize some of you guys are wanting to write stories suggesting divisions among Republicans," Cruz said.
On the Des Moines Airport tarmac, Cruz pointed behind him to the "Trump-Pence"-emblazoned plane in the background, "I'll make a point I am getting ready to get on a gigantic airplane that has Donald Trump's name painted on the side of it. On Monday of this week, I voted for Donald Trump. I voted for Mike Pence."
He added that he was "doing everything I can to defeat Hillary Clinton because I think Hillary Clinton could be an absolute disaster."
CNN pressed Cruz on why he didn't mention Trump's name on stage to Iowa voters.
"Well, I am here standing -- as I said -- in front of the 'Trump-Pence' plane campaigning for the Trump-Pence ticket and I voted for Donald Trump and Mike Pence this week," Cruz explained.
Speaking at the Michigan rally, Cruz finally invoked Trump by name before supporters.
"If your health insurance premiums have gone up, like just about every person's in America, then you ought to vote for Donald Trump and Mike Pence and Republicans up and down the ticket," Cruz said.