U.S. President |
|Marco Rubio||4,337 (21.44%)||501,836 (17.73%)|
|Donald J. Trump||4,974 (24.58%)||757,108 (26.75%)|
|Ted Cruz||8,254 (40.80%)||1,238,520 (43.76%)|
|John R. Kasich||977 (4.83%)||120,154 (4.24%)|
|Ben Carson||948 (4.69%)||117,667 (4.15%)|
by PATRICK SVITEK
9:22 a.m. WEDNESDAY, MARCH 2 | STAFFORD — Ted Cruz on Tuesday added two more wins in the Republican presidential primaries, claiming victory at home and in Oklahoma in an otherwise disappointing night for a campaign that had hoped to be closer than ever to the nomination by now.
The U.S. senator from Texas was projected to easily win his home state and the Sooner State by a narrower margin, while billionaire Donald Trump swept most of the 11 nominating contests of the day. In a less expected outcome, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio captured his first state, Minnesota, undercutting Cruz’s argument that his Senate colleague from Florida is not a viable alternative to Trump.
Addressing supporters here, Cruz nonetheless wasted no time urging his non-Trump rivals to reassess their campaigns in an effort to present a unified front against the billionaire.
“Tomorrow morning we have a choice,” Cruz said. “So long as the field remains divided, Donald Trump’s path to the nomination remains more likely, and that would be a disaster for Republicans, for conservatives and for the nation.”
While Cruz’s pair of victories Tuesday night no doubt bolstered his case that he deserves a one-on-one matchup with Trump, it was not the outcome his campaign had originally hoped for on March 1. His team had long imagined Super Tuesday as a kind of springboard to the nomination, propelled by Cruz’s appeal to voters in the group of mostly southern states.
Cruz’s campaign had invested significant resources in the South, sending the candidate there for a weeklong bus tour last summer when his rivals were camped out in Iowa and New Hampshire. The effort did not go unnoticed by Cruz’s opponents — including Rubio, who called it a “bad night” for Cruz.
“Tonight was the night it was supposed to all come to an end,” Rubio said in an interview Tuesday night on Fox News.
At the end of the day, Trump was projected to win seven of the 11 contests and Cruz just two. The outcome in Alaska was still uncertain because polls there did not close until 11 p.m.
In Texas, Cruz had been favored to beat Trump, but the billionaire had proven to be a credible threat, tying Cruz there in one recent poll and narrowly trailing him in a few others. Cruz’s campaign tried not to take any chances, sending the candidate on an 11th-hour tour of the state Monday to shore up support.
With nearly a third of precincts reporting Tuesday night, Cruz led Trump in Texas by 15 points, 43 percent to 28 percent. Rubio was placing third at 16 percent, below the 20 percent threshold required to tap into the pool of statewide delegates.
In Oklahoma, with 89 percent of precincts reporting, Cruz was beating Trump by six points, 35 percent to 29 percent. In recent days, Cruz’s campaign had signaled they saw an opening in the Sooner State, the only place Cruz spent more in the past week than he did in Texas. Cruz had suggested he would benefit from the state’s closed primary system, which only allows Republicans to vote in the GOP primary.
Speaking at his election night party here at the Redneck Country Club, Cruz argued his two wins continue to demonstrate why he is best positioned to take on Trump one-on-one. He pled for GOP unity, stopping short of calling on any of his rivals to drop out of the race but leaving little mystery about what he would like to see happen.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick was more explicit with reporters after Cruz spoke, calling on Rubio specifically to head toward the exits before his home state votes in two weeks.
“He needs to be out of the race by the 15th for the good of the party and the good of the country, but also for his own good,” Patrick said. “Why would he want to run on the 15th and lose his home state by 15 or 20 points? He’s a young guy. He’s got his political career ahead of him. But if he goes home in his home state and gets crushed, his political career is over.”
by PATRICK SVITEK
8:51 p.m. TUESDAY, MARCH 1 | HOUSTON — Ted Cruz on Tuesday was winning the presidential primary in Texas, carrying his second state in the Republican race for the White House, and apparently notching a third with a narrow edge in Oklahoma.
The Iowa caucus winner was projected to beat billionaire Donald Trump, who had posed a serious threat to Cruz in Texas, even tying him in one recent poll. Cruz’s campaign, not wanting to take any chances, sent the candidate on an 11th-hour tour of the state Monday to shore up support.
In early, unofficial returns Cruz was hovering around 40 percent of the GOP vote, with Trump about 10 percentage points behind.
After news networks called Texas for Cruz, chants of “Ted!” broke out at his election night party at the Redneck County Club.
Shortly after the Texas call, Cruz was also projected to win the Oklahoma primary. Cruz led Trump by about five percentage points, 35 percent to 30 percent. Cruz’s performance outside Texas and its northern neighbor on Tuesday night was otherwise disappointing.
The outcome was a far cry from predictions six months ago, when Cruz called Tuesday’s SEC primary his “firewall,” predicting it would be the day on which he made major progress toward securing the nomination. Up until the final hours before polls closed Tuesday, Cruz was arguing that he was running “neck and neck” with Trump across the Super Tuesday states.
Even before polls opened Tuesday, Cruz was framing the potential outcome, positing that only he and Trump would emerge from the contests with the lion’s share of delegates.
Cruz now heads to Kansas, which holds its caucuses Saturday. He is scheduled to hold a rally Wednesday evening in Overland Park before traveling to Detroit for the 11th Republican debate Thursday.
PATRICK SVITEK reports for The Texas Tribune where this story was originally published. It is made available here through a news partnership between the Texas Tribune and the San Marcos Mercury.
COVER: GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz spoke to reporters on March 1 in Houston after voting in the Texas primary. PHOTO by PATRICK SVITEK/THE TEXAS TRIBUNEEmail | Print