The Brief: With Victories, Cruz Moves Closer to Trump Showdown

Posted by Jacob Sanchez and John Reynolds - The Texas Tribune on
Presidential candidates Donald Trump and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz

The Big Conversation

Ted Cruz had an eventful weekend, winning a pair of Republican presidential caucuses in Kansas and Maine on Saturday to bolster his argument that the field should narrow to him and front-runner Donald Trump.

Cruz lost contests in Kentucky and Louisiana to Trump on Saturday and in Puerto Rico to Florida Sen. Marco Rubioon Sunday.

The Tribune’s Patrick Svitek reported that Cruz won the most delegates on Saturday, “narrowing Trump's lead in the overall hunt at a time when the GOP is desperately searching for a way to stop the billionaire.”

Cruz also showed late momentum in all four Saturday contests, something that the Cruz camp eagerly played up afterward.

Svitek wrote:

Cruz's campaign was particularly pleased with its performance in Kansas, where Cruz won with a 25-point margin after internal numbers had suggested a much closer race.

... 

Cruz's campaign was expecting to finish a distant second in Louisiana and Maine. Kentucky, which Cruz did not even bother visiting in the lead-up to Saturday, "seemed likely out of reach," according to one campaign official who partly attributed the apparent late break to Cruz's performance Thursday at the Republican debate in Detroit.

Cruz ended up winning Maine by 13 points and trailing Trump in Kentucky and Louisiana by four points each. In Louisiana specifically, there were signs of a swing toward Cruz between early voting and Election Day.

And while Cruz has been calling on Rubio to clear the field, Trump joined in while celebrating his victories Saturday night.

"I would love to take on Ted one-on-one because that would be so much fun, because he can't win New York, he can't win Pennsylvania, he can't win California," Trump said. "I want Ted one-on-one, OK?"

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