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Seeking support from South Carolina's military voters, Ted Cruz promised that he would fight political correctness at the Pentagon

Cruz spoke from the USS Yorktown in Mount Pleasant, SC, just a few days before Republicans vote in South Carolina

Washington CNN  — 

Ted Cruz, looking to take a hard line in South Carolina to win the support of military voters, lashed out Tuesday at what he called a culture of political correctness in the Pentagon.

“That’s why the last thing any commander should need to worry about is the grades he is getting from some plush-bottomed Pentagon bureaucrat for political correctness or social experiments – or providing gluten-free MREs,” Cruz said, using the shorthand term for Meal, Ready-to-Eat.

In a speech aboard the USS Yorktown, which is stationed in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, Cruz laid out a Reagan-style military policy that he promised would return America to a global position of strength in a speech.

“I am confident that if we put in the hard work we can, as Ronald Reagan did in the 1980s, rebuild our military so it will be so feared by our enemies and trusted by our allies that, God willing, we won’t have to use it,” Cruz said. “That is the essence of what President Reagan used to call ‘peace through strength.’”

Veterans and members of the military make up a critical voting bloc in the South Carolina Republican primary, which is just four days away. The fight over military voters has only become more heated as the primary approaches.

Marco Rubio has accused Cruz of lying about his record – the same charge leveled by Donald Trump against Cruz. Since the debate, Rubio has said Cruz is “making things up” and his campaign drove that message home as Cruz spoke Tuesday.

“Senator Cruz is the only candidate in this race who has consistently sided against our military and intelligence professionals and whose foreign policy vision changes with his poll numbers,” Rubio spokesman Joe Pounder said in a statement. “When it comes to our national security, Marco Rubio is the only candidate with the actual experience and policies needed to keep America safe.”

CNN’s Sunlen Serfaty and Betsy Klein contributed to this report.