STAFFORD (CBSDFW.COM/AP) – Ted Cruz needed to win Texas, the biggest prize in all of Super Tuesday, and he did.
He also said that his win in Oklahoma boosted his argument that contest should be a two-man race.
Cruz told hundreds of supporters that billionaire Donald Trump would be a disaster as the GOP nominee. He said the only way to stop him would be if the other candidates unite behind him so he could challenge Trump directly.
Both Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Ohio Governor John Kasich insisted they were staying in the race until their home states vote March 15th. Cruz asked that his rivals “prayerfully consider” whether to keep going without mentioning Rubio or Ohio Gov. John Kasich by name.
Tuesday night, Donald Trump said with all his wins, he was expanding the Republican Party. But Cruz said he was the only one who could beat Hillary Clinton in the fall, not Trump.
“Head to head, our campaign beats Donald Trump resoundingly,” said Cruz, firing up supporters at a victory party outside his hometown of Houston. “But for that to happen, we must come together.”
Cruz turned what might have been a political Alamo into a decisive victory over the New York billionaire in Texas, along with neighboring Oklahoma, and powerful Texas Republicans in the Legislature and Congress survived what had appeared to be formidable primary challenges from insurgent candidates.
Cruz didn’t capture all of Texas’ 155 GOP delegates — the top prize of Super Tuesday — but won relatively handily while Florida Sen. Marco Rubio struggled across most of the map. Cruz told raucous supporters at the Red Neck Country Club outside Houston that his campaign was entering a new phase and that he was poised for a two-man, national race with Trump.
It was a role reversal for Cruz, who spent years as the ultimate Washington troublemaker and still proudly vows to shakeup powerbrokers in both parties. On Tuesday night he said, “If you’re angry with Washington, I understand,” but Cruz also derided Trump as a “Washington dealmaker, profane and vulgar, who has a lifelong pattern of using government power for personal gain.”
Here is Cruz’s speech:
Turnout in early voting surged in Texas even before Tuesday’s polls opened, which should have been good news for a native-son candidate like Cruz. But as Super Tuesday loomed, pundits looked at Trump’s victories elsewhere and speculated that excitement over the reality TV star’s at-times-outlandish campaign was causing a spike in voter participation.
Instead, it was Cruz who won amid strong turnout.
Cruz heads on Wednesday to Kansas, among a small group of states voting this weekend, but Cruz has ducked questions about where he thinks his first post-Super Tuesday win will come.
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